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Scanned from the collections of 
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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

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Media History Digital Library 

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for amateur films 

Fourth Impression 

London and New York 


No part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without 
written permission of the publishers 

First published in 1951 
Second Edition 1 955 
Third Edition 1958 

Fourth Impression 1962 



The fascination of making a static picture move is as deeply 
rooted in human nature as is the artistic instinct itself 

From as early as the fourteenth century, well before the 
discovery of films, many scientists and artists were intrigued 
by the problem of motion. 

Before the live action film turned towards realism, both 
cartoon and live action had the same "magic'" effect on the 
audience. Directors regarded them as means to reach into 
the supernatural. 

The cartoon film is a true disciple of that very early film. 

Its technique goes back to the Victorian "Wheel of Life". 
This gadget consisted of a small wheel inside a large one. 
Drawings of a galloping horseman in a number of positions 
were fixed on to the smaller inner wheel, and a hole cut in 
the larger outer one. By turning a handle attached to the 
smaller wheel and looking through the hole, the onlooker 
could watch what appeared to be a horse galloping along. An 
illusion of movement was created as the eye had no time to 
distinguish individual drawings, but could only see all of them 
as one producing a continuous flow of movement. 

The basic principle of cartoon animation is still the same. 
The method of production has of course gone ahead, but the 
conception of creating an illusion of continuous motion by 
means of individual pictures remains unchanged. 

The realisation of this basic concept is the essential task of 
the film cartoonist. He is obliged to build up his world on a 
piece of paper in front of him. Whatever results the screen 
will show, the finished cartoon will be his own creation from 
beginning to end. 

Even after some fifty years of film cartooning, the same 

three tools are still the most important: a pencil, a pile of 
white paper, and ideas. This principle applies in spite of the 
growth of studios. Departmentalisation has considerably 
speeded up production, but again technical elaboration has 
cancelled the time gained by it. 

Still, this book is not concerned with the over-elaborate 
processes developed by the big studios. What we have 
attempted here is to reveal the basic method of animation, in 
order to enable you to exploit this medium within your own 
means as an amateur. 

Since the advent of television cartooning has been given 
its greatest impetus and subsequently new careers have been 
opened to a great number of young people. I do hope that 
this simple book will be of use to those who have decided to 
enter into this new field. 

London, June, 1958. 






The Animated Drawing ... 10 

. . . Becomes a Film 11 

How to Start 12 


The Individual Drawings 14 

The Animation Desk 15 

The Field of View 17 

A Frame Mask 20 

Patience and Helpers 21 


Action on the Screen ... 22 

... is Timed in Terms of Drawings 23 

Rhythm in Timing 24 

Timing Shorter Periods 28 

Keying the Movement ... 29 

. . . and Breaking It Down 31 

Trying It Out 32 


Natural Movement ... 34 

... by Unnatural Drawings 35 

Curved Straight Lines ... 36 

. . . and Rounded Squares 38 

The Camera Sees It that Way, Too 38 

We Can Increase the Illusion 39 

Action Along the Speed Railway 40 

Size, Distance, Direction 41 

Perspective 43 


How Real Objects Move 47 

Movement Causes Distortion 48 

Exaggerating Distortion 49 


How Much? 50 

Making Weight Tell 51 

Illusory Elasticity 53 

It Doesn't All Move at Once 53 

Changing Direction 56 

Animated Waves ... 59 

... in a Donkey's Tail 61 

Secondary Movements 64 

Design in Periods 64 


Our Actors ... 66 

Take Shape 67 

Simple Shapes ... 68 

. . . Become Personalities 73 

The Story is Planned ... 76 

... in Terms of Action 76 

The Story Must Run Smoothly 77 

Scenes Must be Linked Up 78 

And Now a Complete Script 81 


Less Drawing with the Same Effect 83 

Making One Picture do the Work of Several 83 

Economy in the Background ... 85 

... in Perspective . . • 87 

. . . and in Scripting 87 


Teamwork Counts 91 

The Pictures are Built Up ... 92 

. . . from Initial Keys ... 93 

... to the Final Animation 93 

Our Means may be Limited 94 

Simplifying Matters 98 

Half Tones 98 

Finishing the Scenes 99 

Making a Camera Chart 100 

Using Colour 102 


What the Camera Must Do 103 

Further Refinements 104 

The Stand for the Camera 105 

The Animation Board 106 

The Pressure Plate 107 

Uniform Lighting 108 

The Film to Use 109 


Making Tests 112 

How to Expose 112 

Controlling Exposure 113 

Making an Exposure Test 113 

Accurate Focusing 115 

Fades 116 

Mixes 117 

Wipes 117 

Tracking 118 

Double Exposure 119 

Just a Few More Aids 120 


From Script to Screen 

A cartoon film like a painting or photograph, a mouse trap 
or a motor car, must begin as an idea. 

But the modern cartoon film has more in common with 
the latter pair than the former; it is essentially a manu- 
factured article, and the process of manufacture is continu- 
ally becoming more and more complicated and specialised. 
The painter and photographer are able to convert their idea 
directly into the finished article. Their success or otherwise 
is determined only by their own creative and technical 

The professional producer of cartoon films is much less 
fortunate. The success of the final result is not determined 
by his skill alone. His idea must filter through many minds 
and many pairs of hands, and must be kept alive in the 
process. If the minds and hands are not able to contribute 
some part of their own viewpoint and originality, as well 
as their skill, the idea is likely to die of tedium during the 
long days of production. 

But if there is too much originality, too many viewpoints, 
the idea will come off" the conveyer belt in such an unrecog- 
nisable and inferior form that it might just as well have died 
anyway. The conveyer belt in a cartoon film factory has 
the disadvantage of being a human, not a mechanical one. 

At each of the many stages of such an involved process, 
something unfortunate can happen to the idea. And very 
little time is available, if production is continuous, for 
experimenting in new approaches and techniques. 

The amateur working alone or with a small group of 
friends, should have a greater opportunity to achieve 
spontaneity and freshness of approach, because his idea will 

not have to pass through such a tortuous channel before it 
emerges on to the screen. 

The following chapters try to explain to him the funda- 
mentals of successful animation and film making, and to 
suggest methods of reducing the amount of labour involved, 
without falling far below professional standards in purely 
technical matters. The rest is up to him. 

The Animated Drawing . • . 

Movement on the cinema screen depends on a phenome- 
non known as persistence of vision. 

[f a series of objects is presented in rapid succession, the 
eye will momentarily retain the image of each of them after 
the next has taken its place, so that the interrupted suc- 
cession appears to be continuous. If the position of each 
object is, progressively, slightly different, an illusion of 
.movement will result. 

In live action cine films this succession of slightly different 
images is provided by the moving subject itself. Its move- 
ment is analysed and broken up by the cine camera which 
automatically photographs slices of that movement in rapid 
succession 16 times a second in a silent film or 24 times a 
second in a sound film. The finished film therefore carries a 
sequence of images, each slightly different from the one 
before it. In this way 16 (or 24) such images make up a 
movement or cycle of movement which actually lasts one 

The projector throws these successive images onto the 
screen one after another at the same speed at which they 
were produced on the film. The individual images are 
synthesised again, and the subject appears to move in 
exactly the same way in which it actually did move in front 
of the camera. 

Tffl p. ca rtoon fil m 1 the animator takes the plac£_o£_tIl£iiY£r 
action camera. His job is to analyse the movement he 
wishes to portray, and then produce it as a series of draw- 


ings. These will eventually appear as a sequence of images 
on the finished film, 16 or 24 being required for each second 
of movement. 

But merely to copy actual movement is not enough. The 
camera's analysis is mechanical. The animator's is essenti- 
ally personal and creative. Apart from artistic ability, th e 
" secret of the animator's techni que is th e realisation of 
how and w hen actual m ovement must be exaggerated and 
distorted in MU^f W produce a pleasing result on the screen 7 

. . . Becomes a Film 

Professional studios producing cartoon films in colour 
and accompanied by sound, have developed a form of 
organisation dividing the work into specialised departments. 

The amateur who decides to embark on a cartoon film of 
his own will probably use neither sound nor colour, and 
each department will probably consist of himself with, at 
most, a team of two or three of his friends. The organisation 
can be simple or more elaborate. 

Nevertheless, his work will progress more smoothly, if he 
follows professional practice in miniature, simplifying and 
adapting it to his own needs. 

So let us have a look first at professional methods. 

The first stage on the journey from idea to film is the 
illustrated script, which describes the action and also sound 
and colour in broad terms, verbally and visually. 

Then a more detailed script breaks down the whole film 
into scenes, states the time each action will take, and 
establishes a rhythm to which the composer sets his music. 

The sound track is recorded next and analysed so that the 
action can be synchronised with it. 

The characters and settings are designed, and a layout 
drawing made for each scene. 

The animation department can now get to work. From 
it a torrent of paper will eventually flow, each sheet bearing 
a drawing of a character in a state of suspended animation. 

When all these sheets are photographed on film frame by 


frame and viewed in succession in the projector, the draw- 
ings will walk and talk, but before then they must go through 
several more processes. 

The paper flood is directed to the tracing department, 
where each drawing is traced in a fine flowing line on a thin 
sheet of celluloid {cell for short). 

Meanwhile the background artists have painted the back- 
grounds against which the action of each scene takes place. 

Colours are chosen for the moving characters and objects 
to harmonise with the backgrounds and the shapes outlined 
on the cells are filled in with these colours. Each animation 
drawing has now become an opaque coloured patch on a 
transparent sheet. 

Now the camera department takes over. The still part of 
each scene — the background — is fixed firmly under the 
camera, and the moving part, the cells, are placed over it, 
building up the complete scene. Each cell is put into position 
in turn and photographed. 

The roll of exposed negative is sent to the processing 
laboratory, from which positive prints (the rushes) are 

Each day's rushes are viewed on the screen, exulted or 
groaned over, and assembled in order (the cutting copy). 

The cutting copy is matched to the sound track, and 
eventually a married print is received, with the sound and 
picture on the same film. 

For better or for worse, the film is complete. 

How to Start 

The greatest danger to guard against is loss of enthusiasm. 
A cartoon film involves a great deal of hard work. So don't 
start out on a complete film all at once. 

Just have a bit of fun trying out odd bits of animation, 
with very simple "pin" figures, which will develop later into 
more complicated characters. 

When you have sufficient confidence to start on your 


Production Number One, make it short and simple. Spend 
plenty of time preparing the script. 

But when the script is finished, stick to it. Don't elaborate 
it as you go along, or the film may never get finished. 

Have one person in charge. Your friends can contribute, 
but your — the director's — decision must be final ! 

Complete each scene separately — animation, tracing, 
painting, background and photography. Seeing Scene 1 on 
the screen will give you much greater enthusiasm to tackle 
Scene 2 and make it even better. 

Don't amass piles of animation drawings which nobody 
feels inclined to trace and paint. 

And above all, don't weaken! Production Number One 
will be good, but Production Twenty-One will be a master- 

b— c 


Materials for Animation 

Irrespective whether this is our first attempt at a cartoon, 
or a million dollar Hollywood production, the only tangible 
result of all film-making efforts is a strip of celluloid with a 
lot of little pictures on it. The brilliance of our direction, 
the magnificence of our settings, or the beauty of our 
drawings have absolutely no value in themselves, but only 
in the tiny reproductions as they pass in procession through 
the gate of the projector. 

So, in order to learn something about making cartoon 
films, let's start where we hope to finish by taking a look at 
a strip of 16 mm. film. 

The Individual Drawings 

The film carries a series of rectangular pictures, called 

They are separated from each other by a narrow margin 
of unexposed film known as the frame mask. 

At the corners of each frame there is a sprocket hole, by 
which the film is guided through the projector, and held 
momentarily in the gate. 

While it is in the gate, that is, during the time it is being 
projected on to the screen, the frame of film must be held 
absolutely still, and must always occupy exactly the same 
position as the one before and the one following. Other- 
wise the picture on the screen would jitter, still objects 
would not remain still, and moving objects would move in 
a very erratic way. So the function of the sprocket holes is 
to jggjgjgr each frame o\ 

Each frame must, therefore, occupy exactly the same 
position on the film relative to its set of sprocket holes. The 


standard by which the movement of an object may be 
judged is its position in the frame, relative to the sprocket 

To convert our empty strip of film into a cartoon film, 
we must put a drawing into every frame. It is possible to do 
this by drawing direct on to the film, and there have been 
actually several attempts at this technique, both professional 
and amateur, sometimes with very unusual and interesting 

But a more practical and convenient method is to make 
our drawings on separate sheets of paper, and to photo- 
graph these drawings on to the film. 

The Animation Desk 

To do this, we shall need some substitute for the sprocket 
holes, so that our drawings will be in correct register. 2${e 
must be sure that an object can be tr ac ed in exactly the 


same position in successive drawings^ and that th 

in^s can he nhotogranfied in the same position on successive 

frames, with the result that the image o^ the object will ± 
appear still on the screen, 

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flj} thfi (Wimntin*! gfegfc pr Ufjht A^y \xrf|jfif| JS fi*{?ft With 

register vezs. 

The animation desk, which can be constructed quite 


easily, is merely a wooden drawing board, about 15 x 
20 ins., tilted at a convenient angle by means of triangular 
wooden sides. 

In the centre of the board is cut a rectangular hole, about 
the size of the sheets of paper to be used for animation. 

Cut a piece of glass to the size of the hole and let it in 
flush with the surface of the board, supported by strips of 

Under this glass panel fit a low-powered electric lamp, so 
that a number of drawings placed on top of the glass can be 
seen together when the light is switched on. 

Now for the register pegs, probably the simplest, but most 
important piece of equipment of the cartoonist. 

Get hold of a letter punch of the ordinary office filing 
type. It must be sufficiently rigid so that we can always rely 
on it to punch two holes of equal diameter with their centres 
the same distance apart every time. 

Punch two holes in a piece of card to act as a template 
for making the pegs. 

These can be metal or wooden dowelling; only they must 
fit accurately into the punch holes. 

When they fit satisfactorily, draw a line with a T-square 
about one inch below the bottom edge of the glass on the 
light box, and mark off the centres of the holes equidistant 
from the centre line of the glass. 

Drill the holes and insert the pegs. 

They should protrude about § inch above the surface of 
the board and must be absolutely rigid. 


As the quality of our animation will depend largely on 
the accuracy of these pegs, it is worth while taking con- 
siderable trouble over fitting them. 

An exactly similar set of pegs will be needed on the 
camera rostrumwhen the drawings are photographed (p. 105). 

The Field of View 

We must also know the exact size of the drawings to 
occupy one frame of film. This is the field in which the 
action takes place. 

Its position must be fixed in relation to the pegs in the 
same way as the frame of film is fixed in relation to the 
sprocket holes. 

A frame of 16 mm. film measures about 10.5 x 7.5 mm., 
while the projection gate aperture is slightly smaller. So if 
the camera lens is directed on to a surface at right angles to 
its centre line, it will photograph an area in proportion to 
these measurements. The drawings must, therefore, always 
fill an area of these proportions. 

The actual size of the area photographed depends on its 
distance from the lens. A short focus {wide angle) lens, as 
shown below right, will take in a larger field than one of 
longer focal length, as shown below left, at the same distance 


So before we can choose the size of the field for the 
animation drawings, we must know the focal length of the 
lens of the camera which will eventually photograph them; 
and, roughly, the height of the camera above the drawings. 
This, of course, depends on the space available. 


Standard Field Camera Distances for Lens of Focal Length 

Size | in. I in. \\ ins. 2 ins. 

(Drawing) 15-17 mm. 25 mm. 37.5 mm. 50 mm. 

5 x 3| ins. 8^ ins. 13 ins. 19^ ins. 26 ins. 

(12.5 x 9 cm.) (20 cm.) (32 cm.) (47 cm.) (65 cm.) 

7x5 ins. II ins. 18 ins. 27 ins. 36 ins. 

(17.5 x 12.5 cm.) (27 cm.) (44 cm.) (66 cm.) (89 cm.) 

9 x 6£ ins. 14 ins. 23 ins. 34 ins. 45 ins. 

(22.5 x 16.3 cm.) (34 cm.) (57 cm.) (85 cm.) (110 cm.) 

I0£ x 7£ ins. 16 ins. 26 ins. 40 ins. 53 ins. 

(26.3 x 19 cm.) (40 cm.) (65 cm.) (100 cm.) (130 cm.) 

12 x 8f ins. I8£ ins. 30 ins. 45 ins. 60 ins. 

(30 x 22 cm.) (46 cm.) (75 cm.) (110 cm.) (150 cm.) 


Standard Field Camera Distances for Lens of Focal Length 

Size | in. \ in. § in. I in. 

(Drawing) 9 mm. 125 mm. 15-17 mm. 25 mm. 

5 x 3f ins. 9^ ins. 13^ ins. 17 ins. 27 ins. 

(12.5 x 9 cm.) (24 cm.) (33 cm.) (42 cm.) (66 cm.) 

7x5 ins. 14 ins. I8£ ins. 23 ins. 37 ins. 

(17.5 x 12.5 cm.) (34 cm.) (46 cm.) (57 cm.) (92 cm.) 

9 x 6£ ins. 18 ins. 24 ins. 30 ins. 48 ins. 

(22.5 x 16.3 cm.) (45 cm.) (60 cm.) (75 cm.) (120 cm.) 

I0£ x 7£ ins. 21 ins. 28 ins. 34 ins. 56 ins. 

(26.3 x 19 cm.) (52 cm.) (68 cm.) (85 cm.) (135 cm.) 

12 x 8J ins. 24 ins. 32 ins. 40 ins. 64 ins. 

(30 x 22 cm.) (60 cm.) (78 cm.) (IIP cm.) (155 cm.) 

The distances are measured from the camera lens. 


Standard Field Camera Distances for Lens of Focal Length 

Size f in. I in. \? ins. 2 ins. 

(Drawing) 15-17 mm. 20 mm. 25 mm. 37.5 mm. 50 mm. 

5x4 ins. 9^ ins. 12 ins. I5£ ins. 23 ins. 30 ins. 

(12.5 x 10 cm.) (24 cm.) (30 cm.) (38 cm.) (57 cm.) (75 cm.) 

7 x 5£ ins. 13 ins. 16^ ins. 21 ins. 31 ins. 40 ins. 

(17.5 x 14 cm.) (32 cm.) (40 cm.) (52 cm.) (76 cm.) (100 cm.) 

9x7| ins. 16^ ins. 21 ins. 27 ins. 40 ins. 54 ins. 

(22.5 x 18 cm.) (40 cm.) (52 cm.) (66 cm.) (100 cm.) (132 cm.) 

I0£ x 8| ins. I9£ ins. 24 ins. 31 ins. 47 ins. 62 ins. 

(26.3 x 21 cm.) (47 cm.) (60 cm.) (75 cm.) (120 cm.) (150 cm.) 

12 x 9^ ins. 22 ins. 28 ins. 35 ins. 52 ins. 70 ins. 

(30 x 24 cm.) (53 cm.) (68 cm.) (85 cm.) (130 cm.) (170 cm.) 

The distances are measured from the camera lens. 

It is best to standardise on a few set sizes, and adjust 
camera distance and lens accordingly. This is much better 
than having to chop and change constantly the scale of the 

The best standard size is 9 X 6\ ins. (22.5 x 16.3 cm.), 
and our frame mask (p. 20) is designed for that size. We 
can, however, go down to about 5x4 ins., or up to about 
12 x 9 ins. 

If the drawings are too small, any roughness will show up 
r jnch more when the film is projected. " 

Too large dr awings, on the other nand, are unwieldy and 
cause muck illUlti WWL """" m ' 

"We must now get a supply of paper, in sheets large 
enough to contain this field with a margin all round. It will 
need to be a large supply; a cartoon studio has a paper 
consumption rivalling that of any government department! 

The cheapest and most easily obtained paper suitable for 
animation is probably copy typing paper in quarto sheets, 
measuring 10J x 8£ ins. (about 25 X 20 cm.). This size 
will allow for a field of 9 X 6| ins. (22.5 x 16.3 cm.), 
which is roughly the screen proportion. 


A Frame Mask 

that this size of field fits ir| with our othe r 
requirements, we no 'make &_frame mask which' is realTv 
ar enlarged copy of the frame o f film on w^jyh our drawin gs 
will eventually appear, 
"T5napiece^1 p TSP?rthe same size as a quarto sheet of 
paper draw a rectangle 9 x 6\ ins. (or 9 x 1\ ins. for 
9.5 mm.), leaving a margin of \\ ins. on one long side. 

Punch two register holes centrally at the bottom edge of 
the wide margin (which will be the bottom of the screen) 
and cut out the rectangle. 

Now if the mask is placed on the light box pegs over a 
sheet of paper, we have a frame in which the picture must 
be composed, and within which all movement must take 

When the completed animation drawings are photo- 
graphed, the camera is merely set up on its rostrum so that 
the lens will take in the area within the frame mask. The 
register pegs are then screwed down on to the baseboard in 
the same position as the punch holes in the mask. When 
each drawing in succession is placed on these pegs, and an 
exposure made, it will occupy exactly the same position on 


the frame of film as we have drawn it on the desk; it will be 
in correct register with all the others. 

Xhg frame mask is to th e film cartoonist what the view 
f^der is to the can raman. All our ideas are expressed 
within its boundaries, and rib scene could be planned with- 
out it. In fact, the frame mask should be regarded as a 
window through which we can look into the fantastic world 
of our cartoon actors and actresses. 

In planning movement, we must remember that it can 
happen not only along and across, but towards and away 
from our eyes; and also that the mask itself can move, as 
well as the objects within it, in the same way as the lens of 
the live-action camera can change its point of view in 
panning and tracking shots. 

This mental habit of thinking of the frame mask as a 
view finder will help to avoid a flat stereotyped point of 
view, and bring life, depth and perspective into our scenes. 

Patience and Helpers 

The only other materials required for animation are 
pencils, rubbers, and an inexhaustible supply of patience. 

The amount of work necessary to make even a short 
cartoon film, although not quite the "thousands and 
thousands of drawings" popularly imagined, is quite 
formidable, especially for one person. 

For this reason it is permissible, though perhaps not very 
polite, to list as "materials" the group of enthusiastic 
helpers whom the would-be animator should gather around 

If there is no division of labour, inspiration is likely to 
lapse rapidly into tedium. Cartoon films are essentially a 
team job, and forming a team and working with it is half 
the fun. 


Speed and Timing 

Very great liberties can be taken with the element of time 
in a cartoon film. The results can be amusing or instructive. 
In fact, this is one of the reasons why cartoon films, imagina- 
tively used, can be valuable for teaching. We can speed up 
the passing of a whole geological era into a few seconds, 
or watch an electron revolving round its nucleus. 

But to begin with our concern is to make animated 
movements appear as natural and realistic as possible. 
Careful observa tion .of the time and rhythm of movements 
is as important as the analysis ot tne movement ltselfT 

Action on the Screen • . • 

The speed of a movement on th< 


it occupies on the film, and the, speed at 
JUfcJUtt Dro|ectedr M " "' Ml ^^^^ 
Le more frames a movement takes, the longer that shot 
will take to go through the camera and the projector and 
the slower it will appear on the screen. 

The fewer frames, the faster it will seem. 

The speed of projection has been standardised at 16 
frames per second for silent films, 24 frames per second for 
films with a sound track and at 25 frames per second for 
television. For simplicity's sake we do not consider tele- 
vision in this book as even professionals work to the simplest 
time unit of 24 frames per second. 

We time animation in seconds plus fractions of a second. 

Now we can divide 24 frames per second into the follow- 
ing convenient, fractional parts: 

1/24 second = I frame 
1/12 second = 2 frames 


1/8 second = 3 frames 

1/6 second = 4 frames 

1/4 second = 6 frames 

1/3 second = 8 frames 

1/2 second = 12 frames 

2/3 second = 16 frames 

3/4 second = 18 frames 

I second = 24 frames 

The speed of 16 frames per second divides into: 

1/16 second = I frame 

1/8 second = 2 frames 

1/4 second = 4 frames 

1/2 second = 8 frames 

3/4 second = 12 frames 

I second = 16 frames 

If we project at 24 frames per second, we have 10 different 
units for timing movement, whereas at 16 frames we have 
only 6. Thus sound speed offers a much finer means of 
expressing the subtleties of a movement. 

So, although it means more work in animation, it is 
better to animate for sound speed of projection, even if our 
film is a silent film, provided the projector available allows 
it to project at the higher speed. 

In this book figures given as examples of timing will refer 
to sound speed (24 frames per second). To convert them to 
their equivalent at 16 frames per second, multiply by 2 and 
divide by 3. As it is impossible to divide single frames into 
fractions, the nearest whole number will have to serve. 

. . • is Timed in Terms of Drawings 

Before starting any animation, whether simple or com- 
plicated action, we must first decide on its speed. From this 
we shall know the number of drawings needed. 

We must develop a sense of timing, first, to estimate in 
seconds the total time taken by our sequence of action, and 
then to split it into fractions of seconds for the more 
detailed timing of parts of the movement. 

So a stop watch, or an ordinary watch with a legible 
second hand should be part of our equipment. 


The rest is imagination and visualisation, and there is no 
short cut. 

Suppose we want to animate a figure walking straight 
across the screen. 

How long should he take to move right across, and how 
big are his steps? 

There are no definite answers to questions like this; 
timing depends on so many different factors. Successful 
timing is not a matter of set recipes; each new movement is 
a new problem. And each problem can only be solved by 
trial and error: animating the action (even if the drawings 
are only taken to a rough stage); watching the result on the 
screen, and learning from mistakes. 

In this way we develop a sense of timing and begin to get 
a feeling for the correct number of frames in different cir- 
cumstances. We can still make mistakes, even, after 
years of experience, and can still learn from them. 

Rhythm in Timing 

Let us get back to the little man who is going to walk 
across the screen. 

Is he fat or thin? 

Is he in a hurry? 

Is he eager or reluctant to reach the other side? 

All these considerations of character will affect the timing. 

Then, how close is he to the camera? Remember our 
frame mask is a view finder; close to the camera is big on 
the screen. 

If he is close up, he will go across quicker. 

In long shot, slower. 

Again, he might be walking in deep snow, or on a dance 

All characters should have their own individual style of 
walking, varying from the pompous and dignified progress 
of a solid citizen, to the "hop, skip, and jump" of a child. 
And every individual style of walk should have its own 
rhythm and timing. 


When you have made up your mind about all this, shut 
your eyes and imagine the whole of the action. 

To get it fixed in your mind, it is a good idea to accom- 
pany it with a little "dum-de-dum" sort of rhythmic beat. 

The little man takes three deliberate steps across a field, 
and then bumps into a tree. 

Like this: "Dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum — bonk!" 

With an eye on the watch, repeat this, say, six times. 

Note the total time taken, and divide by six. 

This will give a very fair estimate of the time of the whole 

The time of the separate steps and the bonk can then be 
decided in the same way. 

In this case the action is a rhythmic one, and the total 
time can be divided into four equal parts; one for each step, 
and one for the bump and fall. 

Many actions, of course, break down into less regular 
divisions than this, and timing them is less simple. But with 



*3TM*TC TlMlAjfr. 

this method of visualisation we can always find their 
underlying rhythm, and decide on the timing. 

Having picked himself up after the fall, our little man 
decides to chop down the tree. 

He produces an enormous axe, and gets to work. 

With a great effort he gets the axe to shoulder level. 

Then a pause, and the axe crashes down on the tree. 

The momentum of the axe lifts the man off the ground. 

After he recovers, he pulls the axe blade out of the tree, 
and starts the second stroke. 

How do we set about timing a movement of this sort? 

The first thing to do is to act the movement through for 
ourselves at the same time chanting, not necessarily aloud, 
some sort of gibberish to fix the rhythm in our minds. 

Remember that jfcfi \faa is to find a rhythmic division of 
the movement into equal parts which can be timed bv stop 
v atch. anft then split up into smaller parts. 

The result will probably be something like this: Up she 
goes. Crash and down. Out and back. 

Take the average time for the whole movement in the 
same way as before. It will probably be 2 seconds, which is 
48 frames. 

Each of the three sub-divisions will then be 16 frames. 

We shall have to know a little more about animation 
before we can break it down into smaller divisions than this, 
but a good exercise at this stage would be to visualise a 
number of movements, and try to time their major divisions. 

Try these: 

1. Strong man, with large dumb bell. He bends and 
grips it. 


Lifts it in three stages ... to his waist ... his 
chest . . . above his head. 

Drops it on his toe. Holding his toe, hops. 

/ i 

' I 

2. Another strong man, swinging the hammer. 


He swings it round six times, getting faster. 

He means to make a record throw, but forgets to 
let go, and flies off hanging on to the hammer. 

Timing Shorter Periods 

When estimating the timing of the finer divisions of a 
movement, it is useful to be able to divide one second into 
various fractions, by rhythmic tapping. 

First, with the aid of the watch, practise tapping at inter- 
vals of one second, the aim being eventually, to be able to 
tap seconds of reasonable accuracy without referring to the 

Then keep one hand tapping seconds, while the other 
beats 2 beats to the second. This is an interval of 12 frames. 


Then double the speed, 4 beats to the second — a 6-frame 
interval. Double it again, 8 beats to the second — 3 frames. 

Now change the rhythm and tap 3 beats to the second. 
This is equivalent to an 8-frame interval. Double — 6 beats — 
4 frames. 

Then try 3 beats in 2 seconds, which gives 16 frames. 

A motor-driven projector is a valuable aid to timing, as 
it runs at the standard rate of 16 or 24 frames per second. 

If, for instance, on a clear strip of film every 24th frame 
is black, then on projection at sound speed the screen will 
be dark for a moment once every second. 

Suppose we have decided to animate a walking figure. 

The key positions are in this case the two positions with 
both feet on the ground, at an interval of 12 frames. 

Take a strip of clear film, mark off every 12th frame, and 
paint it black. If it is to be used on a sound projector, con- 
tinue the black over the sound track area, cut the strip so 
that its length in frames is a multiple of 12, and join it end 
to beginning to make a continuous loop. Load this into 
the projector and switch on. 

The black frames on the screen, with the accompanying 
"clonks" from the speaker will enable you to visualise the 
movement very clearly, and check the timing. 

For irregular movements — one, for instance, where key 
positions are estimated to occur at frame intervals of 8, 4, 
6, 3, and 3, this method is even more valuable. 

If you are not satisfied at first, it is easy to make adjust- 
ments of a frame or so here and there by scraping off and 
repainting until you get it right. 

Keying the Movement • . . 

With the timing decided, there is nothing to prevent us 
starting work on the animating desk. 

First draw in rough fhmcLthe key positions— the be^inninp 

v ancf end of each movement and any position where the 

movement ot_ ny nart of the character or object pauses or 

ckanges direction. Take again our simple 12-irame wal 

o— c 


For the sake of clarity, 
we shall show a man who 
insists on wearing plus- 
fours on his left leg and 
trousers on his right. His 
right arm is less muscular 
than his left. 











Draw him with both feet on the ground, left foot forward. 
This is key No. 1. Number it in the right-hand bottom 

Then 12 frames after this, his right leg will be on the 
ground in front of his left leg. Draw this position on another 
sheet placed over the first, with the light switched on so that 
drawing No. 1 can be seen. This will be numbered 13. 

Then with Nos. 1 and 13 visible beneath it, make No. 25 
which will be the same position as No. 1 but moved forward 
the length of two steps. 

And so on until the man has walked across the screen. 

. . . and Breaking It Down 

The next-Stage-k-knnwn as the breakdo wn. 

Put drawings 1 and 13 on the pegs. 

Now 4 f aw the middle nosilioiLhefiYgffl them which will^ 
lett. j l'H's will be No. 7. 

The corresponding position between 13 and 25 will be 
19, with the left leg off the ground, and so on. 

^Pjgj^Bjjjggj^ Between 1 and 7, make 

two more drawings 3 at|d 5, and continue tfirougiiout until 
afl The odd numbers are cop ipleted 1 i n rough . 

is is thg s ^finf ?f i^KLoia-^li^fjpirc jftpnlH Hp tfyfgrj and 

^jew I on the screen . 

wEerTmovemenns so slow that there is only a compara- 
tively small difference between the odd-numbered drawings, 
a satisfactory result may be got by photographing each 
drawing twice — using it for two successive frames — instead 
of once. 

This is called double frame animation, and obviously 
saves a considerable amount of work. 

Only experience can tell us whether single or double 
frame is advisable, so a good rule to begin with is to test 
everything at the double frame stage, and put the additional 
even-numbered drawings in afterwards, if necessary, when 
the other rough drawings have been cleaned up. 


When shooting the movement at double frame, each 
drawing should have two numbers: 1 — 2, 3 — 4, 5 — 6, and 
so on, to avoid confusion. 

Trying It Out 

Even the most experienced professional animator cannot 
be sure that his animation will be satisfactory before he sees 
it on the screen. 

In professional studios a large amount of film is used up 
experimentally to photograph animation drawings just to 
see whether animation is as good as possible before it 
passes to the next stage, tracing on to celluloid sheets, and 

Unfortunately, this careful testing, although particularly 
necessary when learning to animate, is probably too 
expensive an item in film and processing costs for the 
amateur. So some method of viewing drawings in rapid 
succession without having actually to photograph them on 
film, would be a valuable addition to our list of require- 

This is a simple gadget on the lines of the "What the 
Butler Saw" machines which were once a feature of most 
seaside piers. 




The drawings for 1 second of animation which for this 
purpose should be made on paper stouter than the usual 
animation paper, are mounted on a spindle. 

This is rotated by a handle, so that each drawing in turn 
comes up against a stop, and is held stationary for a fraction 
of a second. 

If a series of odd-numbered drawings are mounted in 
this way, and the handle rotated at a constant speed of 
1 turn per second, we have a sufficiently accurate test for 
timing, single or double frame, and general smoothness of 

A little time and ingenuity spent on making this, will save 
a lot of film. 


Beginning to Animate 

We have seen that movement on the cine screen is an illusion 
produced by the rapid succession of slightly different 
images passing through the projector. Further, if these 
images are drawings differing from one another in a way 
similar to the images produced by filming real action with 
the cine camera, the drawings will seem to come to life 
because of the persistence of vision of our eyes. 

Natural Movement . . • 

But even with the live action camera there are limits to 
what our eyes will accept as continuous movement. 

If the camera swings rapidly across a landscape with a 
prominent vertical feature such as a telegraph pole in the 
foreground, the pole on the screen will appear to jitter quite 
a bit as it passes across. The gap between each of the suc- 
cessive images of that pole may have proved too large for 
our eyes to be able to bridge it with the illusion of its 

Jit ffi- of this sort on the screen, which i s n ot caused by a 
£► fault in animatio n , or in me ca mera, l!> I'tilWi'ed l<& 'AS^ 
*Qr ^optical jitter. TJie iyjW Ttf UlUVBlll^hl wliicb causes it is~ 
Known as unsympathetic movement . ' ^ 

These unsympathetic types oi movement are, however, 
comparatively rare in live action films, for a number of 
reasons. The moving objects have as a rule substance and 
are three-dimensional. They are familiar and easily recog- 
nised. The movement takes place against a background 
which recedes naturally into the distance, and may be also 
assisted by various kinds of secondary movement, such as 


the folds and creases in the clothing of the moving person 
would produce. 

In making cartoon films, we have none of these advan- 
tages. We have to persuade the eyes and brains of our 
audience to accept movement which has never actually taken 
place, of an object which has never actually existed in a 
space that is merely imagined. 

ftn a {ftr.hniqiiy. of ar^jrmt ion must he used which ensures 
that all mo vements are as sympathetic as possible— as 
d5-6ft5fMiV6 && possible in creating the necessaryillusion. 

• . • by Unnatural Drawings 

This is achieved by a deliberate and carefully considered 
distortion ot the moving torms. 

it each irame of a moving figure in a five action film were 
carefully traced, and the drawings photographed to make 
a cartoon film, the movement would probably appear very 
stiff, artificial and jerky. 

On the other hand, if each frame of the movement of an 
animated figure, which appears pleasantly smooth and 
natural on the screen, is examined individually, the drawings 
of the figure often appear extremely unnatural. 

Let's take our upright pole as a simple example to start 
with. It has to be animated from 


to here. 

If the movement is so slow that we can put in a large 
number of in-betweens 


the result will probably be fairly satisfactory; but if we need 
to speed it up 

the movement becomes unsympathetic, as the eye will have 
difficulty in connecting the separate images. 
If the pole now falls over and becomes a horizontal line 

to be moved to here 

it can be seen that an even faster movement 

will give a smooth and pleasant effect. 

Curved Straight Lines • • . 

Obviously it is impossible to ensure that all objects will 
move only along, and never across, their own length. 

it very often we can m odi&Llhe drawings of an un- 
sy|nnapiet|^nQve. t. We can chang^i^eiorm of the 
moving object to increase the sympathy of the movement . 

and back the other way; 


so that we have a sym- 
pathetic movement 
along to offset the un- 
sympathetic one across. 

If it is to be raised 
from horizontal to ver- 
tical distortion like this 
will help going up, and 
going down. 

If our pole is now 
taken as one arm of a 
little man, and his 
hand is added to the 
end of it: 




we have a very simple 
application of this 
theory to figure 

Try some more on 
the animation desk. 


• • . and Rounded Squares 

Not only lines, of course, but all kinds of solid forms 
should be distorted in this way, when necessary, to make 
their movement sympathetic to the eye. 

A square 



A circle 


A triangle 

would be 


AsJlLfi-Snaad-oLthe moving sha pe increases, the necessity 
ftfr portion incre^es too, as the eve has to briflPfliarge r 
and lar££L-£ans between, each drawing 

e grow in the 
direction of its movement as it accelerates." 

ri ezk 


The Camera Sees It that Way, Too 

The need for this particular distortion is confirmed by 
another limitation which the live action camera shows up. 


Ot* StP£ J*M*y F&M fitri+*-&\k€€ri*tl> 

The actual time during which one frame of film is held 
still in the camera gate while being exposed is about 1/50 

If an object is moving too fast for its image to be arrested 
by this comparatively long exposure, it will show a blurred 
double image on the side away from the direction of 

The extent of this blur will increase as the movement 
becomes faster, and decrease as it slows down. 

Close examination of individual frames show that with a 
very fast moving object the extent of the blur causes an 
apparent distortion to the shape of the object which is of 
exactly the same kind as is introduced into cartoon forms 
to increase the sympathy of movement. 

We Can Increase the Illusion 

TJj^alitf is obviously of great help in persuading our eyes 
to accept the illusion of movement. For this reason it js^ 

the object on the side away from its movement. 

leoretically, of courseTthe lines should not extend 
further than the outline of the object in the previous draw- 
ing. But to get an impressive effect of speed, they are often 
carried to an exaggerated length. 

In some cases the object itself may be omitted, and only 
the speed lines animated. 

As the speed of an object increases, then, the distortion 
of its form in the direction of movement will increase until 
speed lines appear. 

Then the length of the speed lines increases, until the 
form of the object gets so blurred that it disappears 
altogether, and only the speed lines are visible. 

As the speed decreases, first the outline of the object 
appears again. Then the speed lines shorten, then they 
disappear, leaving the object only slightly distorted, until 
it stops, and regains its normal form. 


Although this theory, like every other theory of anima- 
tion, has its exceptions, by its intelligent use the compara- 
tive speed of the tortoise and the hare, or the Wright plane 
and a jet aircraft can be very vividly shown. 

Action Along the Speed Railway 

We can put this theory into practice on the animation 
desk very simply by taking two points, as far apart as 
possible within the field, and animating a circle (or some 
other shape) from the one to the other. 

We can take a straight or a curved course at uniform or 
varying speed, but, for the purpose of the exercise, always 
in a time of 1 second for the whole movement. 

First we must make what is known as a qveed railway . 
which is si mply the line 01 me course the circle is to take 
divided lflW 11*16 number 01 irames tne mover^nt occupies'. 

Tlereare a few examples: 

1 4 6 8 10 


14 16 18 20 22 24 


1 « 1 ■ 1 ■ 1 ■ I ■ 1 > 1 i I i I i 1 H 

Even speed. 
2 4 fi a 

10 12 14 16 18 




I ' 1 ■ I ' I ' 1 'I ' 1 ' i I 1 I 1 



Fast — 

2 A 6 8 

H » 1 ■ 1 ' 1 

slow down- 

10 12 

i ■ i 


speed up. 

16 18 20 22 24 

1 ' 1 » 1 ' 1 «H 




Going round bends. 
. . . showing different ways of speeding up and slowing 
down on straight and curved paths. 


These speed railways are the mechanical guides to all 
animation, not only for the movements of objects, such as 
our circle, but also to plot the movement of different parts 
of characters, such as hands, feet, head, etc., so that some 
parts can be made to move at different speeds to and in 
different directions from others without confusion when 
the in-between drawings are put in. 

Each point on the line, of course, shows the position of 
a certain object, according to its number. 

It is worth while taking some trouble to practise the 
division of lines into the correct proportions for various 
rates of getting faster, and for varying lengths of time of 

For even speeds it is easy to calculate the spaces by 
simple division. But when the speed varies, it is largely a 
matter of trial and error. 

Now when we have prepared our speed railway, we 
animate the circle along it by using each point as the centre 
of one drawing. Here we shall have to estimate the amount 
of distortion required which will be governed by the speed 
of the circle at any given point. 

Size, Distance, Direction 

Note that its gjjggj^ as distinct from its slowing down or 
accelerating, j^ni^^ggnd^jj^ijg^ize. Apparent speed, or the 
speed seen on tnescreen, is not the same as actual speed. An 
aeroplane, looking very small at a height of ten thousand 
feet, seems to move much slower than one at roof-top 
height, although the actual speed of both may be the same. 

If two objects of the same size, and moving a t the gflgae 

speed^are at diffy p^n f HJR fpr>™»c f™™ tv>^ ^m^ra tv.^ n^fAr 
one will cross the screen in less time. b |]f tfafi nrnnnrtiofl nf 
tHeir own le which {bev advance for every frame will 


rrmvpxseiY, tf tw ° atascta nf difetfflt subs arp ^ ovinfi at 

t he same s p<ffl||- the, rimr™*'™ ^ f fllA ' r (W n 1pngth atlYar™' 
for every frame will fo» Hiffer^r|t. 


Here are two circles which are to move through the same 
distance, from A to B, in the same number of drawings. 

/ N 





/ T 1 


Note the distance in proportion to its own diameter that 
each circle moves in one frame. Obviously, the small one 
will be moving much faster than the larger one. It is this 
factor, the size of the object in relation to the space traversed 
per drawing that decides the amount of distortion. 

The small circle would at this speed require speed lines 
and the maximum distortion, but the large one needs hardly 
any distortion at all. 

If, instead of the simple circle, we use any kind of moving 
object, the same principle applies. A motor-car travelling 
across screen in the foreground, then re-entering the screen 
on a road in the middle distance, must move the same pro- 
portion of its length per frame in both sizes if it is to appear 
to maintain the same speed. 

If the car is followed by a smaller object travelling at the 
same speed, the smaller object will probably need distortion 
and speedlines, as its apparent speed — length compared to 
distance moved — is greater. 



tha{ to aayaatS SHUifltblL nn object must 
the iroirre it in fallowing 

A rectangle, moving along a straight line, remains a 

But if it moves along a curved line, its sides should be 
curved — provided it is moving at a sufficient speed to be 
distorted at all. 


Assuming that we have passed the previous test to our 
own satisfaction, in the light of what is shown by the pro- 
jector, the next step is to animate a simple object in 

The object can be made either to approach or to go away 
from the camera; increasing or decreasing in size on the 

In all perspective animation, it is advisable to lay the 
thing out properly, complete with T-square, set square, and 
the rest of the ghastly collection. 


The whole effect will be spoiled if the perspective is not 
accurate. Our eyes can seldom be trusted to judge the per- 
spective of a whole series of drawings as they sometimes 
can with a single one. 

Larger sheets of paper than normal will be needed for 

Perspectivgjirawing is a conventional way of representing 

a solid' thre e-rtimensionpq n^rct r>r> a tint two-dimensional 
sheet o f naner . Tt is based o n the observation that two 
p arallel straight lin es, i f nlaceri 
Horizontally acrosj 


any nosi+iofl o ther than 
's field of view, will appear 

to conver 


— on a h orjl frftntal T|peTeveTvrt^ & 

ally taken to be a little below the 

c entre line of the field of view — in our case the frame mask^ 
sr, the observer or camera, will seem to be looking 


> waras ? ll it is nigjner. downward 
or dramatic effects, when an object or figure is made to 
rush "out of the screen", take a low horizon. 

A high horizon is useful for a peaceful "toy-town" effect. 

To start with, let's take a cube which has to be animated 
towards the camera, at even speed, and along a straight 
course. Establish horizon, vanishing points, etc., and draw 
it in its first position, not too small in screen. Indicate its 
final position. 


It can advance along the lines of either of its own sides 
from the vanishing point (lines P). Alternatively it can 
advance along any lines connecting a point on the horizon 
with its bottom corners (lines O). 

To reduce the number of lines in the diagrams, we will 
make it travel along the lines P, but the method is the same 
in either case. 

Assuming we want it to move during 1 second, all we 
need is a series of key points, 1 to 25 along one of these 
lines. These key points divide the distance the cube travels 
into equal parts. These parts will, of course, not actually 
be equal. We are never as fortunate as that. 

The cube can then be constructed on each of these points, 
except for the length of the horizontal sides. 

Here some book on perspective comes in useful to tell us 
how to obtain the lengths of these sides by measuring points, 
but it is usually possible to estimate this quite accurately 
enough by comparing their lengths with the lengths of the 
divisions in the line of the course of movement. 

When we have drawn the keys, we can get in the in- 
between drawings by estimation. 














N x\ 



First, connect the top right corner with the vanishing point 
from which it is to move and extend this line to the right. 
Draw a vertical to it from P. 25, the final position. 
Draw the diagonals of this rectangle. 



Drop a vertical from the intersection of these diagonals. 

It cuts the bottom line at the middle point (P. 13) of the 
cube's journey. 

P. 7 and 19 can now be found by more diagonals, and so 
on. Bob, we hope, is now our uncle! 

When the result of this exercise is projected and compared 
with the last, the value of perspective in adding to the 
dramatic interest of animation should be very apparent. 
It presents some fascinating problems to be overcome, as 
we shall find when we go on to work out some variations on 
the simple example given. 

Try these for a start: 

1. Advance the cube on the line O. 

2. Lower the horizon. 

3. Change the vanishing points, turning the cube to a 
different angle. 

4. Lift the cube off the ground as it moves forward, 
until its underside is visible. 

5. Advance on a curved course (Ouch!). The key 
points for this are best obtained by estimation, using 
the experience gained in the previous examples. 
Projecting them is a very complicated matter. But 
don't forget that the vanishing points will move 
along the horizon as the cube turns, in following 
along the curve. Best of luck! 

If a figure is being animated to move in perspective — for 
instance, a man walking up to or away from the camera — the 
length of his steps must be plotted out in perspective in the 
same way as the equal stages by which we moved our cube 
forward. Otherwise the effect will be completely spoilt. 
Unless the steps in the distance are at least approximately 
the same length in proportion to his size as those in the 
foreground, he will be likely to hurtle away at jet-propelled 
speed wearing seven-league boots. 

Sometimes this may be funny, but it is more likely to raise 
a laugh of the wrong sort. 


Some Principles of Movement 

We should now have reached the stage where we are likely 
to want to stop playing about with simple shapes, and start 
making them look like something. 

A very brief study of the laws which govern the move- 
ment of objects in real life will show us that the distortion 
which we introduce into the shapes we are animating is not 
just arbitrary, but has its foundation in nature. The use of 
distortion, therefore, is the only way which enables us to 
reproduce movement so that our characters and objects will 
appear to ftave~weight and sol idity, and give a convincing 
illusion of reality, however fantastically they may behave. 

We have so far considered distortion only as an aid to the 
eyes of our audience in accepting and following movement 
on the cartoon screen, but it is a most important part of the 
movement itself. 

How Real Objects Move 

There are three principles which have a great bearing on 
the animator's work — the Laws of Motion established by 

Their effects will have to be applied to every movement 
we animate. If we don't apply them, our animation can 
never be vigorous and natural, and our objects and charac- 
L~ ters can never look real and solid. u—pnJL 

1* Firstly a body which is still, tends to remain still. In the 
same way a body which is in motion, tends to remain in 
motion .(McM&VTO *f ") 
j?,. Secondly, the states of stillness and movement of a body 
can only be changed by the action of an outside force. The 
body will move in the direct line in which the force is applied, 
until another force acts to change its direction. 

■a ' ■ m ill.. mm *,.,. - 1n ,„ L , , | , ,| - ■■ — ■—».-»— ,+r-.. i.ri_T, 1lirr| |) , »ii . 


5 Thirdly, every action causes an equal reaction in the 
opposite direction. 

The animator's apphcation of these rules will probably 
be a caricature of their application in physical science. But 
in order to make fun of something, we must have at least a 
superficial knowledge of it. 

The most important of these laws, as far as we are con- 
cerned, is the first. 

To avoid confusion in the following examples in referring 
separately to the tendency to remain still, we will call it 
inertia, and a little unscientifically, call the tendency to 
continue moving momentum. 

These two control all animation, they are the natural law 
behind the fantastically unnatural behaviour of cartoon 
characters which is their chief appeal. 

Cartoon people may defy other natural laws, such as 
gravity, for which they often have complete contempt; but 
they must always obey the laws of inertia and momentum. 

Movement Causes Distortion 

Unfortunately, the effects of inertia, in that it actually 
causes a change in the shape of a body, take place so quickly 
that they are invisible to the eye, and even to the cine 
camera. But the high speed camera, taking exposures as 
brief as 1/10,000 second or even less, can easily record these 
tiny movements, and it has given us some fine examples on 
which we can base our observations. 

For instance, a golf ball, after it has been struck by the 
club, but before it starts on its flight, is squashed almost to 
a flat disc. This is because (like many people we could 
name) it doesn't want to start moving. The part that has to 
move, because the club is pushing it, crowds forward on to 
the part which hasn't yet been affected by the force. Then, 
when its inertia has been overcome, the elasticity of the ball 
draws it forward into its original shape, and it springs 
away from the club with tremendous vitality. 


In the same way a boot kicking a football sinks right into 
the ball, which is distorted almost into the shape of a sausage 
before it springs away. 

The reverse effect is illustrated by a ball in flight on its 
being returned by a stroke from a tennis racket. This time 
the ball doesn't want to stop, and the part that is still moving 
pushes forward on to the part which is being forced to stop. 
Again the ball is squashed flat. It has not sufficient energy 
to overcome the momentum of the racket, which is moving 
in the opposite direction and doesn't want to stop either. 
Although this makes the strings of the racket bulge back- 
wards until they begin to look like a fishing-net, they succeed 
in bringing the ball to rest. At last the elasticity of the 
strings and the forward movement of the racket push the 
ball forward again, its inertia is again overcome, and it 
zings away. 

It is this vitality, this "zing" that we want to get in our 
animation, and obviously the use of the effects of inertia, 
wherever possible, will help us. 

Exaggerating Distortion 

Our problem is time. 

The effects we have seen photographed, occurred in a 
minute fraction of a second. Our smallest unit of time is 
1/16 or 1/24 second, so if we make the squash happen on 
only one frame, its duration will be enormously exaggerated. 
Happily this, for some reason, doesn't seem to matter, pro- 
vided the distortion is exaggerated in space as well as time. 

In really dynamic movement, we have to carry distortion 
to the utmost. 

The football must, for one frame, be a sausage. 

For one frame the tennis racket must be a fishing-net. 

This may sound very daring, but, it does actually work, 
and strangely enough will look very much more real than 
if we don't risk such exaggeration. 

This distortion is known to the animator as squash, and 
is used in varying degrees in all movement, fast or slow.\ 

r- 49 

rot oieta 

It is the means by which cartoon movement, a thing in 
itself false and unnatural, can be made to look realistic on 
the screen. 

For this reason, cartoon characters are designed to be 
pulled and pushed into all sorts of shapes and still remain 

Apart from the use of squash to make movements natural 
and convincing, the exaggeration of the effects of inertia is 
often the basis for a cartoon story and is the main source 
from which many films derive their humour. In that case, 
distortion is made very obvious and becomes a movement 
in itself, instead of merely part of a movement. 

However, the animator should concentrate first on achiev- 
ing natural-seeming movement before attempting animation 
of this type. 

How Much ? -a&n ti 

The degree of squash and the nuifibei* of drawings on 

which the squash is animated depends on three characte r- 
i stics of the objects themselves: 
/, First, the speed at which they are moving when they come 
into contact with the force that stops them; or the power of 
the force which starts them. 

Z Second, the weight for, to be exact, the mass) of the 

objects. _ _ — . 

^5 Third, the material of the objects, particularly the elas- 
ticity of this material. 

These three factors, however, will sometimes contradict 
each other, as we shall see. 

When this happens, we can only make up our minds 
which is the most important, and act accordingly. Then, 
when we find we have chosen the wrong one, start again. 

The word "squash" is engraved on every animator's 
heart, and wherever animation is being discussed and 
criticised, "too much squash" or "not enough squash" is 
a constant cry. 

Let's consider the three in turn. 


The first is the simplest. Obviously a ball will squash less 
on bouncing if it is travelling slowly. 

A body falling from six feet, will squash less than one 
falling from sixty feet (especially if it's a human body!). 

A slow lob is much less punishing to a tennis ball than a 
smashing drive. 

But this factor has little effect on the speed of squash. 
That is more dependent on the weight. 

Making Weight Tell 

v This is where contradictions begin to occur. 

■ As a general rule, a heavy object will squash more; and 
more slowly than a lighter one. 

Consider the elephant, an animal whose loose flesh and 
skin, rather floppy feet and flapping ears make him visibly 
squash when walking, in a most cartoony way. He certainly 
looks his weight. 


Compare him with the giraffe, also a large and heavy 
animal, but one whose taut and rigid structure does not 
visibly alter when he walks. This gives him a deceptive 
appearance of lightness. 

So, to obtain an effect of lightness, squash should not be 
much exaggerated, and should occupy only one or two 

For great weight, very much exaggerated squash, happen - 
ing comparativel y slowly; five," six, or even mo re f rames" 
could be usecT 

>ut now imagine a large soap bubble, floating very 
slowly to earth. As it touches, it could be shown to squash 
slowly down to an oval shape, and then contract back again 
with a slight, slow bounce, and repeat the process till it 
comes to rest, behaving much as our general rule tells us, 
an iron weight should be animated. 

Here, of course, the speed of descent is one thing which 
accounts for the anomaly, and another is elasticity. The 
bubble's light weight is expressed by its tenuous outline and 

I iridescent colour, and its elasticity is the important factor 

\to be expressed by movement. 


Illusory Elasticity 

In animation, all substances are endowed with elasticity 
they do not possess, because we always have to exaggerate 

Lumps of iron, or concrete, in cartoon motion, can only 
be given the apparent weight of concrete and iron, if they 
behave in a way in which these conservative and inelastic 
materials would never dream of behaving in real life. 

But if everything must bend and stretch as if it were made 
of rubber, then something that is actually made of rubber 
must bend and stretch to an infinitely greater extent, and 
take much more time over it. 

So, if the quality to be emphasised in an object in move- 
ment is its elasticity, give it very much more, and slower 
and therefore more visible) distortion. 

The only factor which limits the ti me taken by squash in 
alftliese cases is that it must not be visible for long enough 
to be confusM^wit ElEe^hormal shape. If we are conscious 
of^Kelfliftortioir^nSing in itself, and not as a part of the 
wHoIFmovement, it is too slow. 

And, of course, when InTobject comes to rest after violent 
movement and is to be held stationary for any length of 
time, it must be seen in its undistorted form. 

However much the d istortion, the total volume of the 
squashed object must appear to remain more or less the same. 

It Doesn't All Move at Once 

In making any object start or stop moving, then, even if 
it is not such fast movement as the examples we have con- 
sidered, we have t o fft^iftmh pr th^t a part o f it will star t 
moving before the r est has started, and stop before the rest 

The force, or impetus, is transferred through the sub- 
stance of the object, and effects each part in turn. 

Each part is reluctant to move or come to rest before it 


The part that moves or ceases to move first is the part to 
which the Force is directly applied. 

A great deal of quiet fun can be got out of these effects. 
For instance, here is a pin man pushing a heavy truck. 

The part that must move is the part he is pushing. 

It is heavy, so it will start to move slowly. The rest doesn't 
want to move. 

So, the first result (with his feet moving rapidly and 
slipping back, to express the magnitude of his efforts) is 
only to distort the truck like this: 

Then he overcomes the inertia. 

The shape of the truck returns to normal, and the move- 
ment continues. 

u V7 

To stop the truck, another force must be brought to bear; 
either friction or an obstruction. 

If it is going to be friction, the man stops pushing, and 
the truck continues. 


Friction acts first on the wheels, so they slow down, and 
finally stop. 

As they slow down, the rest of the truck still has momen- 
tum and wants to go on. So again it is slightly distorted 
before it comes to rest. 

With an obstruction the distortion will be greater, as the 
stop is more sudden. 

The momentum of the truck tends to wrap it round the 
buffers, in the same way as cars tend to wrap themselves 
round lamp posts. 

The greater the speed, the greater the "wrap". 

The man, if he is fool enough to go on pushing, will be the 
next object to squash while the truck is returning to normal. 

The last object to return to normal is the man. 

w w 


Th is passing on of the squash from one object or figure 
to "another, or from one part of an object to another, is 
known as a concertina movement, and has many applica- 
tions. Invent somemorer ~~~ 

Make sure, however, that the squash does not happen 
before the object meets the force that causes it. There must 
alw ays be one drawing showing the object un-HIst^ ^d^m 
contact with whatever is going to causejt tojHstort. 

" Mere afeTTe^rmoT^simpIeexampTes. Try thinking up a 
gag which arises directly out of the movement, to enliven 

1. A ball bouncing on a hard surface. This and the 
following ones will be what is known as a "repeat 
movement", as the first key — the ball at its maxi- 
mum height above ground — will also be the last, and 
will start the movement over again. The same 
drawings can be repeated an indefinite number of 
times. Suggested timing, 16 frames for each com- 
plete movement. 

2. A pin man hitting the side of a post with a large 
stick. The point here is that after the stick touches 
the post, momentum will still carry its end forward, 
and the stick will bend round the post, before it 

3. Same pin man hitting the top of the post with a 
heavy mallet. Both the mallet and the post will 

Changing Direction 

When a moving object changes direction, the second rule 
of motion comes into play — an object moves in the direction 
of the force that starts it, and only another force, in another 
direction, can make it alter its course. 

The direction from which the impetus comes is a very 
important factor in the shape and behaviour of animated 

This can best be illustrated by taking as an example the 


animation of a stick with another stick hinged to it at one 
end, which is free to move from side to side. The whole 
thing is moved by a hand grasping the lower stick. 

When it is at rest, the hinged part (we could call it the 
flap), will hang downwards to its full extent. 



When the hand, which represents an impetus in the 
direction of the arrow, starts to move, the end of the flap 
will lift slightly and trail behind as its inertia is overcome. 

It will continue to rise as the speed increases. 

But when the hand with the stick stops, the flap will want 
to go on moving, and, as it cannot pass the stick, momentum 
will cause it to rise still further. 


If the hand stopped permanently, the momentum of the 
flap would be overcome by gravity and it would fall down 
again, but if the hand changes direction, the upward move- 
ment will continue, as momentum is causing the flap to 
continue moving in the original direction. 

Its upper end is being pulled one way, by one force, and 
its lower end in the opposite way by another force. 

So, after the stick has reversed its direction the flap will 
pass over the top of the stick, fall down on the other side, 
and remain there until the direction changes again. 

If this movement is animated, it will resemble very closely 
the distortion which we introduced into the vertical line 
(p. 36). 

There is then, a foundation in nature for the arbitrary 
distortion which we used merely as an aid to the eye in 
following movement. So it follows that the more the effects 
of inertia and momentum are introduced into our anima- 
tion, the smoother and more pleasing it will be. 

If this simple hinged stick is used as the basis for the 
construction of an arm and hand ... j 


we can see clearly how the principle is applied to the 
animation of figures. 

Remember that the part which has the impetus applied 
to~it will change direction first. Other parts will continue 
to follow the original direction as long as possible until, in 
turn, their inertia is overcome. 

Animated Waves . . • 

There is another effect of this principle which is very 
easily observed in real life — the waves which appear to run 
along a length of rope when one end is shaken violently up 
and down. 

The movement of a wave lends itself very definitely to 
animation, and we can make use of it in many instances 
with exciting results. It is worth while studying it in detail. 

Here is a hand holding the rope. 

The end is lifted up . . . 

and jerked sharply downwards. 


When the second upward movement is started, the 
momentum is still making part of the rope continue to 
move downwards . . . 

and on the next downward jerk, both the previous upward 
and downward movements are still going on. 

The first wave has now moved along the rope, and others 
are following it. 

When the agitation of the end of the rope is stopped, the 
last wave will continue to move along until gravity brings 
it to rest. 

When animating this movement, note that there is no 
intermediate position where the rope is a straight line. In 
fact, if the experiment is made with a piece of rope, it will 
be found that considerable force is needed to pull a long 
rope straight again once a wave system is started in it. 

This is because the momentum of the moving rope must 
be overcome before it can be pulled straight. 
/* In moving a wave crest along then, from A to B, the 
in-between position must always be at C, the crest moving 
V along a line between the two key positions. 


A simple experiment will show the value of this wave 
movement in animating lines. On a long strip of paper 
draw a wave . . . 

Above this, place another sheet with a small vertical slot 
in it. 

When the strip is pulled from side to side, a line appears 
to move up and down the slot in a much more attractive way 
than if it were merely an oscillating straight line. 

Always look for opportunities to animate in wave form, 
as this sort of movement is extremely sympathetic. 

. . . in a Donkey's Tail 

A typical example of the way this movement is used is a 
donkey waving its tail. 

E— C 


The impetus to lift the tail is given by whatever muscles 
the donkey uses for this purpose. The inertia of the bobble at 
the end keeps it hanging downwards while the tail is going up. 

Then the impetus changes direction, the root of the tail 
moves down, but the momentum of the end still keeps it 
going up . . . 

until its momentum is finished. 

By this time an upward impetus has started 


but the bobble is still going down . . . 


which brings it back to the first key position. 

Movements of this kind can be made much more interest- 
ing if some perspective is introduced into them. In this case 
try to make the bobble approach and recede from the 
camera, giving it a circular motion. 

I nertia causes any str aight ed ge of a moving object to 
curve outwards in the direction of its movement. When the 
movement isreversed, the straigfiTTinecurves over in the 
opposite direction. 

It is be tter no t to draw any intermedia t e stages of the 
changeover tr om one curve to anothei^^^Ucula rlv with 
fast movement. Then just let th e curve snap over. 

But if it is necessary to animate the change of curve, 
always use the wave principle 

and never a straight line as an in-between position. 


Secondary Movements 

The last of Newton's rules; the famous one about an 
equal and opposite reaction, serves to remind us of a way 
in which we can add emphasis to our movements. Vfe can 
precede tfesai, accompany them, or follow them by second- 
ary movements in the opposite direction. 

A man who is going to dash madly across the screen, will 
prepare for the big movement forwards by a smaller 
preliminary movement backwards. . . . 

While he is speeding across, the wind of his passage can 
cause a tree to bend over. . . . S(j^® ■ 

Then, when he has passed, the tree returns to normal. 

In this way the important movement is emphasised by 
three secondary movements which considerably add to its 

Design in Periods 

A rather common fault in animating a succession of rapid 
movements is to allow the figures to dash wildly in all 
directions like mad, without giving the audience a chance to 
appreciate any individual movement. This often means that 


a good deal of hard work does not have such a powerful 

effect on the screen as it deserves. 
The mistake can be avoided by always thinking of a 

movement as having three stages: a nticipation, a ction, 

result, j ind allowing for them in the timing. 
£_ t Anticipation is the preparation for the major movement; 
* a smaller, slower movement in the opposite direction. 
^T • , Before a jump, the figure crouches. 
^ T(C Before a punch, the fist is drawn back. 
3 * ^ Before a dive, the diver stretches up, and poises on his 

°^jtQ Then a fter the major action, comes the effect. There are 
C^Salways opportunities for emphasising the major movement 
G®& by incidental effects on other objects. 

When the man lands on finishing his jump, he will squash; 
but small objects near him can be made to leap into the air 
from the impact of his landing. 

The diver makes a splash on entering the water, which 
moves in the opposite direction to him. 

In this way, periods of violent movement will be inter- 
spersed with periods of quiet, and will gain greatly in effect. 


Characters and Script 

If we know and understand the three rules of movement, 
and take every opportunity of making the utmost use of 
them in animation, we have the fundamentals of all the 
tricks of the animator's trade. 

But there are too many ways in which the effects of these 
rules, and the distortion they cause in moving objects, can 
be applied to every kind of character and thing that we can 
think of. It would be impossible even to attempt to make a 
list of them. 

The best way of getting familiar with all the uses of 
squash in animation, is to see as many cartoon films as 
possible, see them again, analyse them, discuss them and 
criticise them. With the new knowledge we have gained, we 
shall be able to watch cartoons from an entirely new point 
of view, and learn something even from the worst of them, 
if only how not to do it. 

Continue to practise and experiment with animation, 
attempting more and more ambitious subjects and move- 
ments. The moment will soon come when you feel that it 
would not be a complete waste of time and film to set out 
on a full scale production of your own. 

How do we start? 

Our Actors . . . 

First we shall need characters. 

The little pin figures we have been using during the 
practising period have several advantages. The chief one is 
that they are very easy to draw, and so save a great deal of 
work. In fact it is quite possible to make extremely enter- 
taining little films with pin people as the only characters, 


moving in very simple surroundings designed to suit them. 
They are capable of expressing many kinds of emotions by 
movement (which is the only way of expressing emotion in 
cartoon), and can be made to stretch and squash in any 
way required. 

Also they will teach us an economy of design and ex- 
pression which will be very useful when we finally desert 
them for more fully developed and intricate characters. 

But remember that every line added to a character is 
equivalent to a definite number of hours of work added to 
the production time of the film. You will have to make up 
your minds whether this additional work is repaid by addi- 
tional pictorial and emotional value on the screen. The result 
can be judged only by the action that appears on the screen. 

You cannot justify an unsuccessful film by pointing to an 
individual drawing and saying, "But look how beautiful 
this is!" 

• • • Take Shape 

Cartoon characters must be designed so that they can be 
imagined and drawn in every possible position in space, 
quickly and easily, and by all the members of the team, if 
there is one, working on the film. 

They must, therefore, be built up of simple, solid, 
geometrical shapes, and have fixed proportions that can 
easily be recognised and reproduced, no matter what size 
the character is to be drawn. 

They must also be capable of being stretched, squashed 
and distorted to an enormous extent without losing the 
original underlying shape. 

Very few of us would be able to draw a skull, for instance, 
quickly and clearly, from above, below and sideways. It 
would be almost impossible to stretch a skull to three times 
its length, or squash it as flat as a penny, and still keep it 
recognisable as a skull. 

But we have all done this quite easily with a ball. A 
sphere remains a sphere from which ever angle it is looked 


at. And no matter how drastically it is distorted, it never 
loses its essential character. So the sphere is a better basis 
for designing our cartoon people than something so 
intricate as, say, a skull. 

Simple Shapes . . . 

Two balls joined together make an ovoid shape which can 
easily be bent in the middle. This makes an excellent body, 
both human and animal. 

Variations of character can be made by varying the sizes 
of the balls. This also applies to the head. 

The arms and legs can be cylinders, either one bent in the 
middle, or two of different sizes hinged at the elbow or knee. 

Hands and feet are flat discs, with the fingers or toes, 
small cylinders, attached to them. 

With such simple shapes as the sphere, the cylinder, the 
cone and the disc, of varying proportions, an infinite variety 
of characters can be built up. 

Always think of the characters as being built of solid 
shapes. They will, of course, be drawn flat, but to think of 
them as solid while they are being drawn and animated 
helps to make them look solid on the screen. 

These underlying solid shapes, too, are disguised to a 
certain extent when the detail of the character is completed, 
but they should always be roughed in first when drawing so 
that their presence is felt in the solidity of the character. 


These two illustrations are from "Dolly put the Kettle on" and "Fly 
about the House", both professionally produced cartoons. The running 
time of the former is 2 minutes. It requires 1,100 celluloids and anima- 
tion and 25 painted backgrounds. The latter required 4,700 celluloids 
and 82 backgrounds. 










> i ; j< ; 

..maa&SUXZMMM B-K.Jjg;.:, . : ,: ,,. . 



Story board of "Dolly put the Kettle on". While this story board 
technique is a "must" in a professional cartoon studio, it is also very 
useful in other kinds of production. If you want to be sure of the smooth 
continuity of your story, there is no better way to ensure it than to 
preconceive it with some rough sketches. Cartoon, more than any 
other type of film making, can pre-select its situations, camera set-ups 
and editing. So don't leave to chance what your figures will do and how 
your objects will appear on the screen. Rough them out in small 



.. . 









♦ : 





I f /~"\ H 


thumb-nail sketches, concentrating mainly on (a) whether the drawings 
express the film's main idea clearly and smoothly, (b) whether one shot 
follows the other, smoothly, which, of course, will depend on how the 
angles of shots and the sizes of figures were chosen. The design and the 
tones of the background, the tones or the colour of the figures, could be 
worked out within the story board too. What the blue-print is to a 
building project, the story board is to the cartoon. 


Stills from "Animal Farm" and "History of the Cinema", both pro- 
fessionally produced cartoons. The first film, 75 minutes in length, 
required 250,000 drawings and the latter, 10 minutes in length required 
I 1 ,000 drawings. The flat surface of the moving figures blends well with 
the background employing half tones or several shades of colour. 

■■■ :■■■.■..■.■■.■.■'■.. 
.:■■. ■ ■■■-■ ■.■■'.; . 

The simplest type of head is a ball. As this turns, either 
sideways or up and down, the features will appear to revolve 
round it. 

The most prominent feature is the nose, so this must be 
a separate shape — a little pyramid or cone, or a ball of 
varying size. 

An animal's snout is another small ball which revolves 
round the larger ball which is his head. 

The mouth is a line, when closed, which becomes a con- 
cave depression of varying size and shape when open. 
The eyes are considered as flat shapes painted on. 

. • . Become Personalities 

When we are sufficiently adept at building figures with 
the building blocks of our imagination, we must turn them 
into characters. 

Cartoon characters should be broadly and very clearly 
defined. They should be the essence of the type they 
represent. We simplify characters and attributes just as we 
did with their shapes. 

An old man is very old. A fat man very fat. 
g — c 


A happy man is bursting with joy. A sad man is the 
epitome of melancholy. 

It is very difficult to express the middle way in a cartoon: 
it is usually either all or nothing. 

As soon as you have decided on each character, make a 
chart showing his proportions. 

The length of the head is usually taken as the unit of 

Draw the character in full face, profile and three-quarters 
view, with the proportions of his salient divisions clearly 
marked in multiples or fractions of the length of the head. 

It is a good idea to make a separate chart of the head, 
squared up to show the position of the features, as these have 
a tendency to slip out of place when the figure is animated. 

If a character is drawn several hundred times over, the 
construction must be simple enough to avoid unwanted 

Economy demands simplicity too. A character based on 
complicated lines will cost more and take far longer to 
animate than a simple one. 


This is a chart showing proportions of a character. The 
unit of measurement here is half the length of the head. The 
proportions and position of the features are clearly estab- 
lished. If animation drawings are constantly compared with 
the chart, the animator will soon be able to draw the figure 
instinctively in any position, and distort him in any way 
without losing the essential character. 

These charts should be kept in full view during the 

production of the film. 


The Story is Planned . . • 

The general idea of the story our characters are going to 
act is then expanded into the shooting script. 

This should be as comprehensive as we can possibly make 
it, giving the whole of the action divided into separate 
scenes, including details of the background against which 
each scene will be played. 

The imagined position and angle of the camera in relation 
to the characters, and any change of position of the camera 
during the scene should be noted. 

The method to be used in changing from one scene to the 
next must be indicated and the complete timing of every 
action worked out in detail. 

If we are making a sound film, the script should contain a 
column where sound effects, music and dialogue are 
described in the correct position where they will occur. 

If the script is correctly and fully prepared, it should be 
possible for any member of the team working on the film to 
choose a scene anywhere in the film, design it and animate 
it so that it will fit smoothly into the rest. 

The script is the framework on which the film is built, and 
production should not start until it has been thoroughly 
discussed, criticised and amended by all the members of the 

. . . in Terms of Action 

The theme of the story should be as simple as possible, 
and be one that can be expressed by action alone. 

Any situations where the characters are inclined to remain 
still, or where only limited movement is possible, should be 

In a sound film, humour of the conversational type is 
extremely difficult to portray, so dialogue should be 
reduced to an absolute minimum. 

In a silent film titles should be used as little as possible, 
as they interrupt the flow of the action. 

But though the actors should be kept moving, the story 


should allow for variations in the speed of the movement. 

It should contain possibilities for both rapid and slow 
action, and the gags should arise directly from the action, 
and not dragged in where they don't fit naturally. 

Don't let it be overloaded with gags and ideas. Carefully 
prune and select them, allow time for each to be worked out 
to give the maximum effect, and save the rest for another 

A common weakness of first efforts is that they tend to 
get crowded with all the ideas of a lifetime. 

The Story Must Run Smoothly 

The next problem is to divide the script into scenes. 

Here the question of continuity, the changing from one 
scene to another, will arise. 

The cartoon director cannot employ the method fre- 
quently adopted by the live action director: shooting an 
excess of material from different angles and distances, and 
then experimenting with the many different ways of assem- 
bling and editing the material until the best result is 
obtained. We cannot afford to animate a scene both in mid 
shot and close up, and decide afterwards which one to use. 
So our editing must be visualised at the scripting stage. 

To help us in this, each scene should be illustrated by 
rough sketches, made as the script is being prepared. 

If these are assembled in order, and arranged on a large 
board, the story board, it is much easier to criticise and 
amend the script. Afterwards they can be used as a basis 
for the final layout drawings for each scene. 

When discussing the script as it appears on the story 
board, we must painstakingly visualise the whole film, its 
settings, characters and tempo from the point of view of 
the audience. 

Continuity is not simply a matter of ensuring that a 
character appears in the same clothes in two consecutive 

It is essential to the smooth unfolding of the story; so 


that the audience know where they are, and what they are 
looking at at any point in the film. 

Is the close up recognisable from the medium or long shot 
preceding it? 

Should this close up be before or after that long shot? 

Does the man turn right or left when he comes out of 
the door, if he is walking along the road from left to right 
in the next shot from the opposite angle? 

Are the characters easily recognisable, or will there be 
confusion as to who is which? 

Are we allowing enough time for this situation to be 

Can we speed up, or omit altogether, this bit of action? 

Is this effect worth the work we'll have to put into it? 

Which are the high points of the story needing emphasis? 

Many questions like these will have to be answered before 
the story board is passed and animation can start. It is 
false to leave them to be solved during production. That 
will only land you in a muddle. 

If the action of the whole story takes place in a compact 
setting, such as a house, and its immediate surroundings, it 
is a good idea to make a rough model from which the 
camera angles are worked out. This will probably give you 
more ideas for imaginative compositions and angles, and it 
will be easier to check that the camera does not take violent 
leaps, but follows the action smoothly from one place to 

The art of continuity can best be learnt, again, by studying 
other people's work, seeing as many cartoon films as 
possible, since in fundamentals the problems and methods 
are always the same. 

Scenes Must he Linked Up 

The way in which shots are linked together, also has an 
important bearing on continuity and must be planned in 
the script. 

The various methods are somewhat analogous to the 


punctuation marks in a text: full stop, semi-colon, para- 
graph, etc. 
We can have: 

1. The cut. This is the comma of a film sequence. 
Here the first frame of the action of one scene 
follows directly after the last frame of the previous 
scene. It is the most frequently used and the most 
effective method of giving pace to the film. 

Always cut on action, that is, keep the movement 
going right to the last frame of the scene, and from 
the first frame of the next. 

Never freeze the movement and then cut. 

Avoid double action; movement at the end of one 
scene repeated in the next. 

2. The mix, or a cross dissolve. Here one scene fades 
in at the same time as the previous one is fading out. 

If the cut is a comma, the mix may be a full stop, 
and begins a new sentence. 

The length of a mix is variable, but the best time 
is 1 second. It can be longer or shorter than this, 
according to the length of time necessary for the 
pause for breath between sentences. 

Again it is advisable to keep movement going 
during a mix, but not as essential as in cutting. 

3. Fade out and fade in. One scene fades to black and 
the next fades in from black. 

This is the end of one paragraph, or chapter, and 
the beginning of the next. 

4. Panning and tracking shots. These are changes of 
scene more slowly than by cutting, effected by 
movement of the camera. 

In panning {pan is a contraction of panorama) the 
camera turns from side to side, a horizontal pan; 
in moving it up and down, we have a vertical pan — 
a tilt. 

In cartoons, this is achieved by movement of the 
background. The latter is drawn longer than the 


size of field, and slides along a small distance for 
every frame. 

Tracking is the movement of the camera towards 
or away from the field. 

5. Wipes. The scene appears to slide over another one. 

This may happen from side to side, up or down, 
expanding from any point in screen, or contracting 
from outside. In fact, the dividing line between the 
two scenes can be of any shape. 

Wipes should be used with great economy, but 
are often most effective if used imaginatively for a 
special purpose. They also are like a mix, equivalent 
to a full stop; the end of one sentence and beginning 
of the next one. 

6. Iris. This is frequently used at the end of a cartoon 

A circle surrounded by solid black is animated to 
close in from outside the screen. It can centre on 
any point within the field. 

Alternatively, a black circle can expand from any 
point until the whole screen is covered. 

A combination of these two methods is a useful 
substitute for a mix or a wipe. 

Another use of the iris is to emphasise any action 

which does not occupy the whole screen without 

cutting to close up. An iris can partly close in to 

surround the action, framing it in black. 

However, straightforward and simple continuity is usually 

better than clever tricks. Skilful cutting increases the tempo 

of the film. Fast action is emphasised if it is divided into 

a series of scenes, getting shorter as the climax is reached. 

Mixing slows down the tempo. Cutting makes photography 

easier. Several scenes connected by mixes makes it necessary 

to shoot many feet of film at one time. If anything goes 

wrong in one scene, the whole lot will have to be re-taken. 

So don't use mixes or wipes unless they are necessary to 

bridge a gap in time or space. 


And Now a Complete Script 

This is what the first of your labours should look like. 
It's quite a simple effort, taking just 1 minute on the screen. 



1 . Fade in. 

Attic room. Hold on the picture 
of the master, the old man, on 
the wall and calendar showing 
Friday (pay day) the 13th. 
Track and pan away. 
To include dog sleeping (at end 
dog suddenly wakes). 

2. Closer shot of dog listening. 

3. Shot of door. Door opens re- 
vealing the old man. 

Dog rushes at him. 
Wipe to. 

4. Old man on his chair. 

He takes a bone, gives it to dog. 
Dog eats it, from other pocket 
man takes out a battered purse. 
Looks suspiciously round. 

5. Closer shot, old man transfers 
the contents of purse to the old 

Puts it under pillow. 

Pats pillow. 

Wipe to night shot. 

The two retire to rest. 

Mix to. 

Outside of house. 

6. Candle light disappears (on 25th 
frame after mix). 

Lettering jumps in. 

"Some hours later" (Hold and 

lettering jumps out). 


Suddenly flames burst from the 

lower storey and spread very 


Flames spreading. 

Sheet comes down. 

Old man descends. 

7. Old man sits still, huddles in 
the gutter. 

Sees. Frames Music and Effects 
2 48 



















Accent for waking the 

Creaking footsteps 

Noise of dog barking 
madly. Fire engine. 
Flames sizzling. 

24 Accent. 



The image of his stocking ap- 
pears over his head (Hold). 
The image of his beloved dog 
with halo appears on the other 
side (Hold). 
The images dissolve. 
Mix to. 

Dog with lively step and tri- 
umphant expression walks along 
with the stocking in his mouth. 

8. Long shot, dog arrives at a Post 

9. Closer shot, dog in front of Post 
Office just settles down on the 

Pan and track up to name plate. 

Hold name plate "Post Office 

Savings Bank 8.30— 6.30." 

Mix in end title "Better Save 

than Sorry". 

Hold end title. 

Fade out. 

Sees. Frames Music and Effects. 






24 Accent. 



96 Very lively music. 





Play out. 


Making Things Easier 

The aim of anybody making a cartoon film, unless he has 
unlimited resources at his disposal, should be to achieve the 
maximum possible effect for the minimum amount of work. 
This is important right from the earliest stages of the 
preparation of the script. 

Less Drawing with the Same Effect 

Choose scenes which offer possibilities of reducing the 
number of animation drawings. 

Abandon scenes which can only be successful if a large 
amount of work is put into them, unless they are absolutely 
essential to the film. Simplicity is especially essential in 
television films. No complicated animation or over-elabor- 
ate backgrounds are noticeable on a small television screen. 

The amount of work necessary for each drawing must be 
taken into account in designing the characters, and every 
unnecessary line ruthlessly excluded. Even Walt Disney has 
found that lions come cheaper than tigers; lions don't have 
stripes to be drawn and painted over and over again! 

The average number of animation drawings for one 
second of screen time indicates the amount of work involved. 
So if we wish to cut down the work to reasonable limits, 
we must look for ways of reducing this average. 

There are many ways of doing this. But such ways of 
cheating" must not become obvious on the screen. 


Making One Picture do the Work of Several 

The most frequently used method has already been 
described — animation at double frame. It is always advis- 
able to line test all animation, except the fastest movements, 


at double frame first, and only add the single in-between 
drawings if double frame is not successful. 

Another device already mentioned is the repeating move- 
ment, where the last key drawing is also the first, and the 
action can be repeated many times with the same drawings. 


To increase the variety, two repeats of the same action 
can be animated with slight variations. These repeats are 
then alternated if the movement has to go on for a consider- 
able time. 

Economy in the Background . . . 

Walking or running when the figure is not in perspective, 
can be made into a repeat by assuming that the camera is 
panning to follow the moving character, keeping him in the 
centre of the screen. 

Instead of moving across the screen, our little man will 
walk in the same place, his feet sliding backwards during 
the time they are in contact with the ground. If the back- 
ground is calibrated to move the same distance that his foot 
moves backward in every frame, he will, in fact, seem to 
move forward. 

The same thing can be done with an object such as a 
motor car. The jolting up and down movement of the car 
is animated (in a very exaggerated way) as a repeat, together 
with the rotation of the wheels and the puffing of the 
exhaust. The background slides in the opposite direction. 

For fast movement like this, the background should not 
be sharply drawn. Instead, the outlines in the background 
have blurred edges on the side away from the direction of 


A figure can be made to walk right across the screen by 
repeating drawings. 

The animation is done in the same way as for a panning 
walk, his feet slipping backwards (p. 85). Then the draw- 
ings are traced on long sheets of paper, or celluloid (if it 
is used) which rest against (but are not put over) the register 
pegs. These sheets are of sufficient length to ensure that they 
cover the whole field when the character is outside the 
field of view at either side. 

Take the first key drawing, No. 1, and put it against the 
pegs so that the front foot is on the ground, just inside the 
frame. Mark this position with a line at the bottom of the 
paper just opposite the centre of one of the pegs. 

Then place drawing No. 2 above it, so that the foot that 
is on the ground is in the same position as the same foot in 
drawing No. 1. Mark this position and continue in the 
same way with all the drawings until he has walked as far 
as necessary. 

Each drawing will be used a number of times, but 


o 7 

each time it will be advanced by the length of one step. 

A more complicated, but sometimes also more effective 
variation is to move the background backward at half 
speed while the figure moves forward at half speed. 

This method is also used when we pan the camera away 
from one scene to direct it on the next. The animation is 
traced on long sheets of paper, and each drawing in turn 
is moved a stage away from the direction the camera is 
assumed to be moving. The background, of course, also 
moves in the same direction, but not so fast, as it is further 
away (see p. 41). 

• . • in Perspective . • . 

Movement in perspective can also be made into a repeat 
by animating both the character and the background. 

This time we have to imagine that the camera is travelling 
along in front of the moving character, and remaining the 
same distance away from him. 

The background is kept very simple, and must be designed 
with straight or curved lines receding into the distance to 
emphasise the perspective. Along these lines there should 
be a series of regularly spaced simple objects, such as stones, 
trees or telegraph poles, drawn in perspective, getting 
smaller and closer together in the distance. 

We then animate a repeat of these objects moving in the 
opposite direction to the movement of the figure. Each of 
the objects is animated on until it takes the place of the next 
in the line. 

When this is combined with the repeat animation of the 
figure walking or running, but remaining in the same place 
in the frame we have a very effective shot. 

. . . and in Scripting 

Apart from such cycles of movements, whole sequences 
of action can often be repeated. Many gags can be worked 
out by repeating actions several times. 

The basis of them is as a rule something like this. 


A man does certain things with a certain result, usually 
painful. He tries again, same result. He then sees that if he 
does it differently, he will avoid the inevitable consequence. 
He does so, successfully the first time. But later on circum- 
stances have changed, and the result happens just the same, 
if not worse. And so on. 

But don't make the mistake of thinking that if a thing is 
funny, or dramatic when it happens once, it will have twice 
the effect if it happens twice. This is sometimes the case, 
but certainly not always. 

Action can often be planned to take place off the screen 
altogether, thus avoiding animation of it completely. If 
this is done with imagination, the audience will possibly 
refrain from demanding their money back. 

As an example, let us imagine two men who are going to 
fight. One takes a tentative blow, and the other returns it. 
Pan away from them, using this same animation on long 
sheets of paper. The combatants are now outside the frame 
area. Continue the pan, and bring in a small boy, sitting on 
a gate, nonchalantly munching a large sandwich, and look- 
ing out of the frame towards the fight. For emphasis, clouds 
of dust can puff in from this direction. Cut to the two con- 
testants, very battered, in whatever situation is necessary 
for the continuation of the story. 

By taking trouble, in the scripting stage, to work out 
shots of this sort, we may save a considerable amount of 
work, and the result is often better than it would have been 
if we used more labour but less imagination. 

Repeated cycles can often be made to continue far 
longer, and be less obvious, if they are intercut or alternated 
with other scenes. This also increases the pace of the film. 

To take an easy example, suppose our subject is a bur- 
lesque of a melodrama, and the humour is derived from 
deliberate "corn". 

The heroine is bound to the rails, and the express is 
approaching. (This is merely an example of a method, and 
not of good scripting!) 


We have animated two shots of the train, and have put a 
considerable amount of work into it. One, perhaps, shows 
it approaching the camera round a bend, and the other is 
a top shot with the train going diagonally across our field 

Trace both these shots in reverse, and make alternative 
backgrounds for them. The same animation has now been 
extended into four different scenes, each of which can be on 
the screen for several seconds. They can then be repeated, 
if they are intercut with shots (they could even be stills), of 
such things as a signal; the heroine in close up and medium 
shot; the villain and the hero. Imaginative cutting can be 
the best possible labour saver. 

If our camera is capable of tracking, we can save ourselves 
a good deal of work. The same animation can look quite 
different if is repeated in close up. 

h— c 


We can make a very complicated object, such as an aero- 
plane, move up right to the camera by tracking in on it 
against a featureless background. 

And at least once in a film we can work in a location shot 
where the camera pans and tracks up on a still background 
for several seconds, without any animation at all. 

Additional atmosphere can be given to shots of this sort 
by the animation of shadows. Sometimes we can turn aside 
from the movement of the characters to watch the movement 
of their shadows. A complete fantasy can be developed 
from shadows only. 

There is no limit to the ways of reducing the number of 
drawings, and the amount of time and labour, without in 
any way reducing the quality of the film. We can adapt 
these methods, and many others that will occur to us as we 
become more experienced in a hundred different ways. The 
right time to think of them is the scripting stage of the film 
so that we don't have to interrupt production by making 
amendments to the script. Sometimes, particularly with our 
first films, we may find we can't avoid that altogether. But 
all the same, the less script work is needed during pro- 
duction, the better. 

If, as is quite possible, we can reduce the average number 
of drawings per second to about six, a fast moving and well- 
animated cartoon, lasting about four minutes is not such a 
herculean task as it may seem. 


Producing the Cartoon 

In a professional studio there are quite a few stages between 
the completion of the script, the story sketches and the start 
of the actual production of the film. 
But just let us see what happens there. 

Teamwork Counts 

The composer is briefed about the type of music required, 
and uses the time-script as the basis for the rhythm and 
moods of his music. 

Meanwhile the layout and colour design of every scene 
is put in hand, and more finished drawings are prepared 
from which the animators and background artists will 
eventually work. 

The music and dialogue is then recorded onto the film. 

Before the animation can start, the music must be very 
carefully analysed, so that movements can be synchronised 
with it. The number of frames to each bar of music is 
counted and a detailed chart made of them. 

This chart is showing the position in the bar of separate 
notes of the melody and orchestration, the exact position to a 

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single frame of all accented notes and other details of the music. 

These charts are passed to the animators who, with the 
help of the music charts, are able to prepare and number the 
key drawings. 

When the animation is completed and photographed, and 
projected together with the sound track, the action should 
develop on the beat of the music. 

The animators also prepare designs and details of the 
backgrounds, which are passed to the background artists 
for completion in colour. 

At the same time another chart, the camera chart, is made 
for the guidance of the camera man in photographing the 

The Pictures are Built Up . . • 

By the time the animation reaches the camera room, the 
drawings will have been traced on to transparent sheets of 
plastic material, the cells, and painted in colour or tone. 

Each moving figure or object has a series of cells to itself, 
so that one figure can remain still while another is moving; 
or one can move at double frame while another is moving 
at single frame. 

So each frame is built up of several layers. First comes 
the background, above it the cells containing the moving 
objects, and possibly a cut out foreground behind which the 
characters pass. 

The camera chart gives complete details of this compli- 
cated process; it indicates any panning movements of the 
background, the order of the cells placed above it, and 
details of what cells must be changed for each frame. 

It also describes what camera movements are to take 
place in tracking, any change in the position of the register 
pegs, and the length and position of mixes, fades, wipes and 
other special effects. 

Without it, the situation would be completely out of 
control, so its accurate preparation is a very important part 
of the animator's work. 


• • . from Initial Keys . . . 

The animator frequently makes his keys in rough, and 
they may be as far apart in time as one second, or even 
more, leaving a large number of in-between drawings to be 
put in. 

They are taken over by another artist, the assistant 
animator, who is responsible for cleaning up and breaking 
down. He makes finished drawings from the key animator's 
roughs, and reduces the gaps between them by making other 
drawings at closer stages. 

Then the in-between artist completes the process. 

The pencil drawings are photographed, with a roughly 
indicated background, drawn on cell, placed over them so 
that a line test of the complete scene can be viewed on the 
screen, criticised by the director, altered if necessary, and 
line tested again until it is considered to be as good as it 
ever will be. 

The editor assembles the line test film of each scene, and 
matches it to the sound track, so that the director can see 
how the whole film is progressing, and make alterations to 
the continuity, camera view points and so on, before it is 
too late. 

The line test cutting copy, as it is called, is finally used as 
a guide to the assembly of the finished scenes as they are 
received from the processing laboratory. 

. . . to the Final Animation 

After the line tests have been passed, the scene goes to 
the tracing department. 

Here, each drawing in turn is placed on the register pegs, 
a punched sheet of cell placed over it, and a careful tracing 
made in ink or poster colour. 

If an "actor" passes behind an object on the background, 
the tracer is responsible for registering the figure to the 
background so that no gap will show when both are on the 
pegs under the camera. 


The tracing department also checks the camera charts 
made by the animators. 

The final stage is the painting, when the tracer's outlines 
are filled in with the required colour in oil paint. The paint 
is applied on the reverse side of the cell, so as not to disturb 
the tracing line. Great care must be taken to put the paint 
on smoothly, without lumps which will cause it to crack 
when pressed down under the camera. It is also very im- 
portant that the paint in each space of the same colour is of 
exactly the same tone and colour on each cell, and has no 
marks or scratches. Otherwise a very unpleasant flicker will 
occur on the screen. 

After a final check, the complete scene, background and 
camera chart is passed to the camera room for photography. 

Our Means may be Limited 

This is, of course, a far cry from the amateur's way of 
doing things. 

Unless he has very considerable resources in time and 
money, the amateur film cartoonist will have to simplify this 
complicated process. But he can still obtain a result on the 
screen which will not fall far short of professional standards. 

The biggest item in the cost of materials is the sheets of 
celluloid or plastic, which at the present time are expensive 
and not always easy to obtain in quantity. So if a method 
can be found to eliminate the use of cell as far as possible, 
costs will be very greatly reduced. 

This can be done by going back to the technique used by 
the pioneers of animated film. In the days of "Mutt and 
Jeff" and the immortal "Felix the Cat", animation on cell was 
the rare exception rather than the general rule it is to-day. 

The animation was done on white paper, the characters 
being drawn in black and white, without half tones, black 

If more than one level of animation was needed, as we 
now use several levels of cell, holes were cut in the sheets of 
paper of the upper drawings so that those beneath showed 


through. In some cases it was necessary to cut right round 
a drawing, leaving only a narrow strip of paper connecting 
it to the pegs. 

The background was drawn on a sheet of cell, and placed 
over the animation drawings. As the greater part of the 
figures was filled in with solid black, it did not matter if they 
overlapped the lines in the background. Though if a clear 
part of a figure had to be superimposed over a detail of the 
background, the background line was scraped off the cell, 
and drawn in again in the next position after the figure had 
moved past. 

These early films were admittedly comparatively crude 
judged by modern standards; and, of course, it is by modern 
standards that our productions will be judged. So, if we 
adopt the early technique, we must make sure that we do 
not also reproduce the early crudities and failings. However, 
these did not arise, in the main, from the technique used, 
but from design, story and animation. 

Whenever a new technique is being developed, the 
technique itself becomes such an over-riding consideration 
in the minds of those using it that the artistic qualities of 
the product are not given the importance that they deserve. 
It was so wonderful, in those days, that a drawing should 
move at all, that the pleasant design of the drawing and 
movement was apt to be neglected. 

But we are able to take advantage of the great progress 
made in animation, and the greatly improved design of 
characters and settings in present-day cartoons. So we 
should be able to achieve attractive results, even if con- 
siderations of costs impose limitations on our technique. 

It is, of course, only in black and white that this simplified 
method can be used. A colour film makes the use of cells 
absolutely essential, but it is unlikely that we will progress 
to colour until we have made several successful productions 
in black and white. 

In any case, this experience in economy of scene design 
will be valuable when a more ambitious production is planned. 


The components of one frame of a scene. (I ) The background. (2) The 
first cell, registered to the basket on the background. (3) The second 
cell. A repeat animation, registered to the cauldron on the background. 
(4) The complete scene. 




Dotted lines show the cut paper method. Smoke alone on bottom level. 
(2) Cut a hole, or half-way round the figure, to show smoke. (3) Cut 
all round, to fit over (2). (I) Background on cell. Lines crossing the 
figure omitted. 


Simplifying Matters 

If we decide to use the cut paper method, we shall have 
to modify the design of our scenes accordingly. 

We must make the background as simple as possible, 
leaving the maximum amount of white space in the centre 
of the screen. 

Cut out foregrounds, either on paper, or drawn on cell 
behind which the characters move, can be painted in full 
tone, and help to give depth to the scene. 

Close ups can often be designed without using any back- 
ground at all. 

Plan figures and moving objects in black and white, and 
at the most, one tone of grey. 

For the finished animation trace the drawings on a 
whiter and more opaque paper than the thin stuff used for 
the animation sketches. 

In tracing, take very great care to maintain a uniform 
thickness of line in every drawing. If one part of a figure, 
such as the feet or legs, remain still while the rest is moving, 
every tracing of this part must be in exact register with the 
previous one, or it will jitter violently when the finished film 
is projected on the screen. 

If one part remains still for any length of time, it is a great 
saving of labour to make only one tracing of this, cut it out 
and place it over the other drawings on which only the 
moving part appears. 

When the outlines are completed, fill in the blacks with 
Indian ink or poster colour brushed on very dry, so that it 
does not distort and crinkle the paper. There must, of 
course, be an absolutely uniform black on every drawing. 

Half Tones 

Avoid half tones — grey tones between black and white — 
unless absolutely essential, as it is much more difficult to 
make them completely even. 

With practice, this can be done with water colour or 
coloured ink. A colour is easier to put on evenly than grey. 


Usually a light red reproduces well as a middle tone. 

Start by mixing a sufficient quantity for the whole scene, 
and keep it well stirred. Brush it on quickly, using as few 
brush strokes as possible and being very sparing with 
colour. While it is wet, blot it quickly with clean blotting 

Better results will be obtained with small areas of tone 
than large ones. 

If you make a mistake, don't attempt to go over the space 
again. It is better to scrap the whole drawing. But some- 
times the space can be cut out, and the tone painted on 
another small piece of paper which is stuck on behind. 

Finishing the Scenes 

The next stage is to decide where the sheets of paper have 
to be cut to build up the complete scene. This presents some 
fascinating problems and is unrivalled as an exercise in 

Probably the only solution to some particularly tricky 
problems is to trace a few drawings, or even one complete 
level of animation, on cell. In this case the colour that has 
been used for the half tone on the paper drawings will have 
to be accurately matched and used for filling in the cell. 
Often white paint will need darkening slightly with grey to 
make it match the white of the paper. 

Poster colour to which gum has been added will adhere 
to cell long enough to be photographed if it is handled very 
carefully, but it is worth while to go to the trouble of paint- 
ing in oil colour if very many cells are used. 

In cutting paper drawings, don't make the fatal error of 
cutting off the peg holes. Cut each drawing in a slightly 
different place. Then, if the paper cuts do show slightly on 
the film, it will not be so obvious. But with care paper cuts 
can be completely invisible, if the lighting and exposure in 
photography are correct (p. 108). 

An important point to remember is that the number of 
levels of cell used must remain the same throughout the 


whole scene. Although cell is transparent and colourless, 
each thickness used does cut down the amount of light 
reaching the camera. If we start a scene with only one cell 
above the white paper, and during the scene we add another, 
the whole scene will suddenly darken to quite an obvious 

To avoid this, use blank cells which are discarded when 
the animation on cell appears. This is another factor which 
has to be noted in the camera chart. 

Making a Camera Chart 

Even for the most simple scenes, consisting of only one 
level of animation, it is advisable to prepare a camera chart. 

This consists of sheets of paper ruled with horizontal 
lines, each representing one frame of film as shown opposite. 

Vertical columns represent the different levels of anima- 
tion, the left-hand column being the lowest level. The 
numbers of the animation drawings are written downwards 
in the vertical columns, so that, by reading across hori- 
zontally, we have the numbers and the order of the drawings 
or cells which should be on the pegs together with any frame. 

If there is a blank cell, the word "blank" is written in the 
appropriate column. 

If a background pans along, the background itself is 
calibrated with the divisions it moves for each frame. The 
divisions are numbered, and the numbers written in the 
column headed "Background". 

Another vertical column is headed "Camera", and in 
this the positions and lengths of mixes and fades are indi- 
cated, and also the frame by frame changes in the position 
of the camera if it is to track closer to or away from the 

Although the example of a camera chart given may at 
first sight appear to be only a meaningless jumble of figures, 
charting ceases to be a headache for the animator after a 
little experience. 



































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Using Colour 

When you have become reasonably proficient at making 
black-and-white cartoons, you may like to try your hand at 
a production in colour. 

From the point of view of animation there is nothing 
difficult about it; you prepare the individual drawings — this 
time on celluloid — in the same way as for black-and-white. 

Then comes the big job: colouring. The two important 
points to watch in colouring are evenness of application, 
and uniformity of colour throughout the film. 

In other words, evenly coloured areas must not be patchy, 
not even in just a few frames. 

Further, the hue and depth of tone of the same colour 
must not change from one shot to another. This is a matter 
of continuity as much as anything; if our hero wears a 
scarlet cloak in one shot and a blood red one in the next, 
the effect will be as queer as if he had suddenly changed 
from long trousers to knickerbockers for no apparent 

So, use the same pigments throughout to make up any 
particular colour, and be specially careful about blending. 
Make the colour up in the right strength, and do not dilute 
concentrated colours to obtain different hues, or you will 
have great difficulty in matching them. 



The camera and rostrum on which the final stage of the 
production of the film is carried out, can be as simple or as 
complicated as our ingenuity or our pockets can make it. 
The set-up must, however, fulfil certain minimum require- 
ments. As bad camera work or inferior equipment can 
easily ruin all the work we have put into the animation, it 
is worth while to spend time, trouble and money in making 
it as efficient as we possibly can. 

What the Camera Must Do 

1. We shall invariably photograph the drawings one by 
one. So the camera must be capable of exposing one frame 
at a time. 

This is possible with most of the standard clockwork- 
operated cameras. 

2. The camera must be capable of focusing on the field 
which is used for the animation. If it has a focusing lens 
there should be no difficulty about this. 

The close distance at which the drawings are photo- 
graphed is, however, usually too near for a fixed focus lens, 
especially as the stop used is likely to be a large one. 

This difficulty can usually be solved by using a supple- 
mentary lens in front of the camera lens. If the camera lens 
is set to infinity, the supplementary lens should be of the 
same focal length as the distance between the camera lens 
and the drawings. 

3. The camera should have a viewfinder which looks 
directly through the taking lens. If it has an indirect view- 
finder, this will not be centred on the same point as the 
camera lens. With some finders this parallax error can be 


adjusted to make the finder accurate for the close distances 
at which it will be used. 

If the camera does not have a direct viewfinder, focusing 
will be a matter of trial and error. This is not of very great 
importance as once the focus is found, it need not be altered. 

Tracking shots, of course, will be out of the question. 

4. The lens should be fitted with an adjustable iris 
diaphragm. This will allow us to vary the exposure to suit 
the lighting and also to produce fades. Again, nearly every 
camera has this feature. 

So the camera which fulfils our minimum requirements 
is a simple affair. With it we shall be able to shoot our 
animation quite successfully, but certain effects will be 
beyond our reach. 

We shall be able to fade out and to fade in, by closing 
down the iris from its normal stop, or opening it up to its 
normal stop in stages, and making an exposure at each stage. 

But we shall be unable to mix or wipe, and we cannot 
obtain the many useful effects of double exposure, or super- 

For these the camera must also be capable of running 

And if we want to be able to make tracking shots, the lens 
must have a focusing mount and a viewfinder which looks 
directly through the taking lens so that we can focus 
correctly in a number of different positions. 

Further Refinements 

Two more refinements will make it the perfect instrument, 
so far as any camera (pernickety creatures which most film 
cartoonists soon learn to distrust) can be considered perfect. 

1. Registration pins fitted to the gate. These fit into one 
or more of the sprocket holes as the gate closes, locking the 
film into position while the exposure is made. 

This ensures a steady picture. Moreover, we can make 
several exposures on each frame, and be sure that the image 
on the film each time will be in exact register with all the 


others, as the film is always held into exactly the same 
position. Fitting such registration pins, of course, is a 
skilled engineering job, and adds considerably to the cost 
of the camera. 

2. A set of interchangeable lenses, of different focal 
lengths. With these, we can take close-ups, medium shots 
and long shots without altering the position of the camera. 
Also, our tracking range becomes much greater. 

The Stand for the Camera 

Let's leave the camera on one side for the moment and 
consider the rostrum. 

That is the frame on which the camera and the board 
which holds the animation drawings are mounted. The most 
important point about it is that it must be rigid. 

It can be made of wood, with four stout uprights kept the 
correct distance apart by battens at top and bottom, and as 
much cross bracing as is necessary. 

i — c 


It should be as high as possible, according to the height 
of the room in which it is going to be used. The back and 
feet are best firmly fixed to the wall and floor. 

The floor of the room in which the rostrum is erected 
should be solid, without loose boards, and if possible, away 
from heavy traffic outside the house. If the floor vibrates 
while shooting is going on, we cannot expect a steady 

The camera and operating gear is fixed to a board, with a 
hole cut for the lens, at the top of the framework. 

If the camera is going to track, holes are drilled at the 
corners of this board, and four metal collars, with setscrews, 
fixed above them. Four metal rods pass through these 
collars, and are fixed by brackets at top and bottom, to the 
uprights. The camera board will then slide up and down 
along these rods, and the setscrews will lock it in any 

A length of wire cable is attached to each corner of the 
camera board, with a pulley above it on the top of the frame- 
work. The cables are passed over the pulleys, and counter- 
weights are fixed to the ends. The weights are adjusted until 
the board can be moved up and down easily by hand, but 
will remain stationary if left alone. 

The guide rods for the camera board also pass through 
the corners of the easel, and through battens screwed to it 
at each side. These battens are fastened to the four uprights 
by G-clamps when the correct position for the easel has 
been found. 

This position should be at a convenient working height 
which allows sufficient distance from the camera to cover 
the standard field. 

The Animation Board 

This is another flat piece of board. A small drawing- 
board is very suitable, about four times the area of the field. 

On this are fixed a pair of registration pegs just as they 
were on the light box. 


On a sheet of animation paper draw a series of horizontal 
and vertical lines, parallel and at right angles to the pegs. 
Place the frame mask over it, on the pegs. Then adjust the 
animation board and the camera so that the lens will cover 
the area within the frame mask, and the vertical and 
horizontal lines are parallel to the edges of the viewfinder. 

To achieve this the easel must be adjusted at right angles 
to the centre line of the camera lens. When this position is 
found, the animation board holding the pegs can be screwed 
down to the easel. 

However, it is not advisable to fix it permanently until a 
few test frames have been taken and developed to test the 
accuracy of its position. This is best left until focus and 
exposure tests are made. 

The Pressure Plate 

When a scene is photographed, the various layers of paper 
and cell which make up the complete picture must be kept 
quite flat. Otherwise the paper cuts and the objects on cell 
will throw shadows, and the small creases in the cells will 
reflect light into the lens, causing halation. 

They are, therefore, pressed firmly down under a sheet of 
plate glass, which is held firmly in a wooden or metal frame. 

The frame is fixed to the animation board by stout hinges 
at the top of the field, and, of course, well outside it. 


A thin sheet of sponge rubber, felt, or even a pad of 
blotting paper is laid down over the area of the field to make 
a resilient surface for the cells and paper to be pressed down 

As considerable pressure will have to be put on this frame 
during each exposure, it should be very solid in construc- 
tion. The sheet of glass should be quite thick, ordinary 
window glass is definitely not good enough. It must also 
be completely unmarked and without flaws, or these will 
appear on each frame of our film; a most undesirable 

It will save time in photography if a spring or counter- 
weight is fixed to the frame so that it will swing up as soon 
as pressure is released, to allow the drawings to be changed. 

Uniform Lighting 

The next problem to be tackled is the lighting. 

The lights are best fixed to the animation board. Then if 
the position of the board is changed the distance between 
the lights and the field will not vary, and the exposure will 
remain constant. 

The simplest, and often the best, method is to arrange a 
batten of four lamps on each side of the field with a simple 
reflector made of tin-plate. 

The power of the lamps can then be varied to suit the 
maximum aperture of the lens, the exposure time of the 
camera and the aperture of the shutter (all of which control 
the amount of light reaching the film). 

The lighting must be even over the whole field. If it drops 
off anywhere, or causes a hot spot because light is reflected 
into the lens from the glass surface, there will be dark or 
light patches on the screen when the film is projected. 

The angle of light is, therefore, important. 

You get reflections if the lamps are too close to the 
camera. Let them shine on the cell surface at a wide angle 
instead, so that any reflected light is well clear of the camera 


Evenness of lighting is best tested by a photo-electric 
brightness meter or exposure meter. Run the meter slowly 
over the whole field, and keep adjusting the position and 
angle of the lights until it shows the same reading in every 

If a meter is not available, try to trace changes in the 
intensity of the light by scanning the field, with a sheet of 
white paper on the pegs, and the frame mask in place, 
through a dark filter. 

This is not a reliable method, though, so in any case a 
test should be made by photographing the lighted field of 
view on a strip of film in the camera. Have this processed 
and run it through the projector (preferably joined end to 
end in a continuous loop) and you will soon notice any 
unevenness in lighting. 

This is also the best way of making sure that no light from 
the surface of the cells or the glass is reflected into the lens. 

Two small floodlights, each of 250 watts, fixed to brackets 
on each side of the field will probably be found to be more 
efficient and more easily adjusted than the simple batten, but 
the trouble with these is that they are apt to concentrate heat 
as well as light. If the lighting is too hot, cells will crinkle, 
patches of moisture will appear on them which are very 
difficult to get rid of, and photography will be a generally 
uncomfortable business. 

When the lighting has been rigged up, go on a search for 
unwanted reflections. Paint everything on the rostrum matt 
black, including the underside of the lens mount. It is a 
complete waste of film to take beautiful pictures of the lens, 
reflected in the glass, but it is surprising how often this is 
done! Reflections have a habit of occurring from the most 
unlikely places, so hood the lens to protect it from rays 
as much as possible. 

The Film to Use 

You will probably shoot most of your cartoons on reversal 
film. This is the cheapest and simplest way for amateur use. 


When you send the exposed film back for processing, it is 
directly developed and reversed into a positive; so the strip 
of film you project is actually the same as the one you 
exposed. The processing charge is included in the price 
when you buy the film. 

There are several makes and types of reversal film avail- 
able in the three substandard sizes. 

The best choice is a slower (less sensitive) film stock rather 
than one of the fast types. The reason for this is that cartoon 
drawings should reproduce fairly contrasty, and slower 
films generally give more contrast. 

Suitable films are Gevaert Micropan and Superpan, 
Kodak Plus X and possibly Super X, and Pathe S.X. Pan. 

These films will need more exposure than high speed 
types, but that does not matter greatly, as we have lighting 
and exposure conditions completely under our control. 

Alternatively, if we want more than one copy of the film, 
we can use negative stock. This is processed to a negative 
only, and has to be printed again onto positive film to pro- 
duce the finished film for projection. We can in this way get 
as many copies of our original film as we want. Naturally 
filming becomes more expensive in this way — the cost of 
sensitive material is doubled — but we have much more con- 
trol over exposure as well as the contrast of the final copy. 

Suitable types are Gevaert Gevapan 27 Ilford Pan F, 
and Kodak Plus X. 

As we can ask the processing laboratory to increase the 
contrast when making the positive print, we can use even 
high speed stock such as Ilford H.P.3 or Kodak Tri X for 
photographing the drawings. 

If we use the cut paper method of animation and make 
our drawings without any half tones, high contrast becomes 
even more important. 

In that case the best choice is to photograph the drawings 
on positive stock. This is a slow but very contrasty film used 
for making prints from negative film. If we use it in the 
camera, we shall, of course, obtain a negative. This has to 


be printed on another positive film to give the final pro- 
jection copy. 

As the film is so slow, we shall need more light or a larger 

On the other hand, it will not reproduce half tones easily. 
This means that the paper cuts will show much less (if at 
all) than with a film that reproduces subtle changes of tone. 
As we cannot use a range of tones in any case with the paper 
cutting method, this is no disadvantage. 

We can also use colour film for photographing coloured 

The films to use are Anscochrome (8 and 16 mm.) or 
Kodachrome (8 and 16 mm.). In either case we shall need 
the artificial light type, so as to obtain the best colour 
rendering. Both Anscochrome Tungsten film and Kodachrome 
Type A film are balanced for Photofloods. 

With any other light source we shall need suitable colour 
correction filters in front of the camera lens. These are 
obtainable from the makers. 

When shooting in colour, watch the following points. 

Make sure the voltage of your electric mains which feeds 
the lamps is constant. Variations in voltage will affect the 
colour of the light sufficiently to change the colour balance 
of the final film. This will be very noticeable when the film 
is projected on the screen. 

Shoot the whole film on one batch of colour stock. 
Different batches vary slightly in colour balance, which 
again may be annoying when the finished film is assembled. 

For the same reason send all the film to be processed 

So first choose the film, and load the camera with it. This 
is not an unnecessary hint. More than once a whole scene 
has been shot with no film in the camera! And if you do 
remember to load, don't forget to take the lens cap off! 

Before starting to shoot, make a routine check of the 
camera. Always check the items in the same order and it 
will soon become a habit. 


Making Tests 

We are now ready to start on a further series of tests, for 
exposure and focus. 

Don't be too anxious to start shooting animation before 
making exhaustive tests, as it will almost certainly prove to 
be wasted material, time and effort. 

For each oT these tests we shall need to prepare a separate 
test card to be put on the pegs and photographed. They can, 
of course, be shot at one time, and sent for processing 
together, but we will consider them separately. 

About ten seconds of film will be needed for each test, so 
that they can be projected in a continuous loop. Studying 
them in the hand is likely to lead to deceptive conclusions. 

How to Expose 

As we have to photograph the drawings one by one, a 
camera with a single frame mechanism is almost essential. 

A camera can expose a single frame of film at a time in 
several ways. 

Most generally used is the clockwork mechanism which 
can be set to make a single exposure every time the button 
is pressed. The only point to remember here is to keep the 
spring fully wound, or the exposure time will gradually 
increase as the motor runs slower. 

Some of the cheaper cine cameras do not have a single- 
frame speed at all. Single exposures are then a question of 
tapping the exposure button with just the right amount of 
force to make one exposure. Needless to say, this is a highly 
unsatisfactory procedure, and such cameras are not really 
suitable for filming cartoons. 

The hand-turned camera is only suitable for black and 
white drawings without half tones. Photographed on a slow 
contrasty film, it is virtually impossible to ensure that each 
exposure is exactly the same, however careful we are. This 
means that successive frames will be slightly under- or over- 
exposed. The half tones will vary in density and flicker when 
projected. Even with plain black and white we must take 


care to turn the handle each time at the same speed. 
Practise doing this, with a regular sweeping movement of 
the arm, counting "one-two-three" while turning the handle, 
and stop each time in the same position. 

An electrically operated camera is best. The simplest 
form is a solenoid which operates the trigger magnetically 
when we press a button. 

Most cameras in professional studios are equipped with 
an electric motor, which runs all the time the camera is being 
used, at a constant speed. It drives the camera by means of 
a clutch, which is thrown into gear when the exposure is 
made, and automatically disengages after one revolution. 

Controlling Exposure 

In all cameras the exposure is variable in two ways: 

(a) By adjusting the amount of light which reaches the 
film. This is done by the adjustable iris fitted to the lens, 
which increases or reduces the diameter of the aperture or 
stop through which the light passes. 

(b) By varying the time during which the film is exposed 
to light. Most cine cameras expose the film by means of a 
shutter which rotates between the lens and the camera gate. 
The shutter has a segment cut out of it, which allows light 
to pass through to the film once for every turn of the 
shutter. We can increase or decrease this segment to increase 
or cut down exposure time. If the shutter is not fitted as an 
adjustable one, leave any adjustments to an expert. In 
motor-driven cameras, adjusting the speed of the motor has, 
within limits, the same effect as adjusting the shutter 

Making an Exposure Test 

Prepare an exposure test card, the same size as a normal 
animation drawing. Divide this into six areas of grey, 
ranging from off-white to very dark. Two thick fines, one 
black, one white, should cross each area. 

Place the card on the pegs beneath the camera, and 


photograph it for twelve individual frames at each lens stop; 
each group of frames being separated by a few frames of a 
label stating the stop used. 

If you are using colour film, include a colour chart of 
squares of blue-green, green, yellow orange, and red with 
the test chart you are filming. 

If desired, the test can be repeated with different total 
wattage of lamps, the power and number of lamps also 
being stated on the labels. 

Send the reel to be processed. When you get it back, 
examine a frame in each group with a magnifying lens and 
also run the whole reel through a projector. 

Note the contrast between the white line and the lightest 
greys, and the black line and the darkest greys. 

If the off-white and the white merge together, the film is 
over-exposed. If the darkest grey and the black merge 
together, it is under-exposed. 

If the print shows darker or lighter patches anywhere in 
the field, which were not on the original card, the lighting 
is uneven. 

If the result is under-exposed with the largest stop and the 
brightest light, you must use a faster film; or, if this is not 
practicable, widen the shutter aperture. 

If it is over-exposed at the smallest stop and the dimmest 
light, use a slower film, decrease the shutter aperture, or 
fit a neutral density filter in front of the lens. 

When choosing the lens aperture, which will be used as a 
standard exposure, remember that it may be necessary to 
increase or decrease the exposure for certain effects, so 
arrange to have at least one stop in hand either way. 

When the best exposure has been chosen, set up a com- 
plete frame of a scene, and make another test for even 
fighting, and visible paper cuts. 

If the fighting has been well balanced, and the glass is 
given even pressure, shadows will be reduced to a minimum, 
and the paper edges should be quite invisible. But it may be 
found that slightly adjusting the stop either way will help. 


Accurate Focusing 

Next comes the focusing test. 

The subject put under the glass to focus on should contain 
the finest and closest lines possible. 

A page of very small type will do. A pound note is better, 
if the exchequer can run to it. Best of all is a focusing wedge. 

This can be purchased, or made in the following way. On 
a large sheet of white paper draw a number of fine black 
lines, close together, converging on a point. Across these 
draw other lines. Photograph this drawing on a miniature 
(1 x \\ ins.) size negative, and make a contact print. Mount 
the print on white card, and punch it for the pegs. 

To start with, set the camera to the approximate distance 
needed for the lens and size of drawings. 

If the camera has no direct view finder, the first trial 
focusing point will have to be estimated by the calibrations 
of distance on the lens mount. Stick a small piece of ad- 
hesive tape on the lens mount, and mark on it the chosen 
position. On each side of it make four more marks, close 
together. Number the middle mark and the others +1, 
+2, +3 and +4 in one direction, and -1, -2, -3 and -4 
in the other. 

Expose a few frames at each of these points, labelling 
each group with the corresponding number. Examine the 
negative with a magnifying glass, and choose the point 
which gives the sharpest image. This point is then marked 
permanently on the lens mount. 

Even if the camera has a view finder which enables it to 
be focused visually, it is worth while to make a test in this 
way, as pin point sharpness is very important in cartoon 
films. Also, as we are shooting at short distances and usually 
at a large stop, we have no great depth of field. 

When these tests have been completed satisfactorily, we 
will be able to shoot straightforward animation. 

However, more tests must be made if fades, mixes, wipes, 
or double exposure are required. The process for each 
of these is as follows: 



These can be done either with the help of the iris dia- 
phragm, by opening or shutting it in stages, a frame or two 
frames being exposed at each stage; or by wiring a dimmer 
into the lighting circuit. 

The slide of the dimmer is calibrated. To fade out, the 
lights are dimmed from normal power until no image is 
recorded on the film. To fade in, they are brought back 
from this position to normal. 

For fades with the iris diaphragm, the stop for normal 
exposure should be as large as possible, so that we have the 
greatest possible movement in which to calibrate the fade, 
from open to shut. 

An extension arm should be fitted to the iris which swings 
round in an arc when the iris is moved. Cut a piece of card 
in the shape of this arc, and fix it so that the pointer slides 
along it. Mark on the card the normal open, and the fully 
closed positions. If the iris does not completely close, the 
last exposure of the fade out, or the first of the fade in, a 
completely black frame, will have to be made with the lens 
covered. Divide the scale between these two marks into 24, 
the most convenient number of frames for a fade. The 
calibrations will not be evenly spaced. For fading out, it 
will be found that the iris needs to close very slowly at first, 
speeding up at the middle and closing rapidly in the last few 
frames. The correct calibrations, which will give a smoothly 
and progressively darkening fade, can only be found by a 
series of tests. For fading in, use the same calibrations in 
the reverse order. 


Mill! I I I MM ItlMMII! 

3 2 10 


The dimmer has the advantage of making a fade possible 
at any lens stop. The calibrations are made in the same way, 
and will be in very much the same spacing as with the iris. 


Longer or shorter fades can be made in various ways; 
taking two exposures at each position; putting the pointer 
between the calibrations; or missing out every other one, 
or two. 

However, with colour film our dimmer is not much good, 
as the colour of the light changes as the lamps are dimmed. 
So in that case you will have to rely on the iris diaphragm. 


A mix is made by fading out on one scene, winding the 
film back so that the first frame of the fade out is again in 
the camera gate, then, shooting forwards again, fading in 
on the next scene. Like the fade it can be done with the 
iris diaphragm, or by a dimmer. The calibrations are made 
in the same way. 


ii 1 1 i i i i i i i I i i 1 1 1 1 1 nun 



But the calibrations for a mix will be spaced differently to 
those for a fade. Each frame receives two exposures, one 
when fading out, and another when fading in, and these two 
fractional exposures must be made to total a full, normal 
exposure. If this is not done correctly, the film will be under- 
or over-exposed during the mix, and the screen will become 
lighter or darker. 

For a mix, in fading in, the iris or dimmer will need to 
open slowly, speed up, and then slow down slightly again. 
The same calibrations are used in reverse. Again, testing is 
the only way to find the right answer. 

In winding back between the two scenes, don't forget to 
cover the lens ! 


As a simple example, take a wipe which has the form of a 
vertical line moving across the screen in 12 frames. 


This line is animated to move across in the usual way, 
and it is traced on to cell twice. 

One of these series of cells is numbered 1 to 12, and the 
other la to 12a. One series is filled in with black on the left- 
hand side of the line, between the line and the edge of the 

The other series is filled in in the same way, on the right- 
hand side of the line. If cells 1 and la are put on the pegs 
together, the screen will be completely black, and so on with 
all corresponding numbers. 

We now wish to wipe from one scene to another. Over 
the first scene we put, in succession, cells 1 to 12, making 
one exposure on each. We then wind back 12 frames, and 
change the scene, putting cell la on the pegs over the scene. 
The part of the second scene which is uncovered by the 
wipe will be photographed on the part that was covered in 
the first scene. Shooting forwards, we now expose 12 frames 
with cells la to 12a in succession on the pegs. 

Other forms of wipe are done in exactly the same way. 


Here the camera approaches, or moves away from, the 
field, one frame being exposed at each stage of the move- 

Before a tracking shot is photographed, the distance to be 
tracked is marked on a scale, and divided into the number 
of moves to be made. As the camera moves, a pointer 
moves along this scale. 

At various points on the scale the focus must be altered 
to keep the image sharp all the way through. Check all 
these focusing points beforehand, and mark the lens mount 
with numbers corresponding to points on the scale where 
the focus is changed. 

The camera must be held rigid at each stage while the 
exposure is made. 

Fast tracks are very much easier than slow ones, as slight 
deviations from a straight line in the movement of the 


camera which are very difficult to avoid with any but the 
finest precision built equipment, are not so noticeable with 
faster movement. 

A mix while tracking is very effective, and much less 
exacting than a straightforward tracking shot. 

Double Exposure 

Very interesting effects can be obtained by making two or 
more exposures on each frame of a scene, in the same way 
as we get interesting effects when we forget to wind on the 
film in our snapshot camera. 

Animation of things such as smoke or clouds, which need 
to be nebulous and transparent, is traced on to black paper, 
and filled in in white or grey. The darker the grey, the more 
transparent the image will be. 

After the main animation of the scene with the back- 
ground has been shot, the film is wound back, and the 
animated clouds photographed. Even where the cloud, or 
whatever it is, does not appear until halfway through the 
scene, the film must always be wound back to the beginning 
of the scene, and plain black paper photographed. If this 
is not done, the part that has two exposures will appear 
lighter all over than the rest. 

We can never double expose in this way to obtain a tone 
darker than the background. We can only add to the 
exposure, not subtract from it. 

To obtain a transparent dark tone, such as shadows, the 
animation of the shadows is traced on a separate series of 
cells. These shadows are filled in solid black. Then the 
scene is photographed all through, without the shadows, at 
an exposure of about one stop less than normal. The film is 
wound back to the beginning of the scene, and the anima- 
tion is repeated, this time with the addition of the shadows. 
The exposure should again be about one stop less than 

The result is transparent shadows. The degree of trans- 
parency can be varied by adjusting the two exposures, less 


exposure on the shadows making them more transparent. 
But the two part exposures must always add up to one full 
one. The correct balance of exposure should be determined 
by making tests before starting the scene. 

This trick can only be done if the camera gate is fitted 
with register pins, as the two exposures must exactly coincide 
on the film, or a double image will result. 

Just a Few More Aids 

The cameraman is not only responsible for the quality of 
the photography, but also for the manipulation of moving 
backgrounds and the changing of animation drawings and 
cells. His work demands very great concentration. 

If the photography can be made a two-men job, the time 
taken will be more than halved. 

Any devices which make his work easier will result in 
films of better quality. A frame counter on the camera, for 
instance, will save him headaches in complicated scenes. 

Sliding wooden strips, fitted into grooves in the animation 
board on which panning backgrounds can be pinned, 
reduce the amount of care and trouble to be taken in 
ensuring that these movements are smooth. 

Tables fitted with nests of shelves will help him to keep 
animation drawings sorted out in their correct order, and 
save endless trouble, particularly with complicated repeats. 

Thought, time and money expended on the camera and 
rostrum and its equipment will be amply repaid. After all, 
the cameraman's work is the only part of all the work put 
into a film that the audience actually sees! 



ACTION. Movement of characters and objects in order to tell the 

O IU I J ••• ••• ••• • • • ••• ••• ••• ••• / W 

ACTION SKETCH. Rough drawing indicating a stage, or series of 
stages, of an action ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 93 

ANGLE, (a) The assumed viewpoint of the observer (i.e. an imaginary 
camera) which determines the perspective in laying out a scene. For 
variety in continuity a different angle is often used in long shots, 
medium shots and close-ups of the same subject 78 

(b) Of lens. The angle at which the outermost rays of light passing 
through the lens meet at the focal point 17 

ANIMATION. The art of giving apparent movement to inanimate 
objects. The word is also used for the sequence of drawings made to 
create the movement, and for the movement itself when seen on the 

*9\»l WW II ••• ••• ••• ••• • • • • • • ••• ••• I w 

ANIMATION BOARD. Adjustable board on the camera rostrum on 
which the pressure pad, register pegs, panning slides and glass frame 
are fitted ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 106 

APERTURE. The size of the opening in the iris or shutter of the camera, 
controlling the amount of light reaching the film 113 

BACKGROUND, (a) The setting against which action takes place. It 
may be drawn or painted on paper, with the animation cells placed 
over it, or drawn on cell, and placed over animation paper ... 85 

(b) Objects or characters appearing far away from the observer 

(c) Action or sound subsidiary to the main action or sound ... 64 

BACKWARD TAKE. Photographing a scene with the camera running 
in reverse. Frequently used to make a line grow (or "run out'*) from 
a point. The line is painted on cell and part of it scraped off for each 
exposure. When the film is projected forwards, the line will appear 
to grow. Footprints, trails from aircraft and many other effects 
can easily be obtained by this method 104 

BLANK. Cell without a drawing used in photography to keep the 
number of cell levels constant throughout a scene, to avoid changes 

Ul tvi I w • • • ••• • * • ••• • • • • • • ••• ••• 7 7 

BUMP IN OR OUT. Causing an object to appear or disappear in one 
frame of film. A very economical, but often interesting effect, 
especially if accompanied by a sound. 

K— C 


CALIBRATIONS. Marks to indicate the movement of a background in 
panning shots, the movement of the camera in tracks, or on a line as 
a guide to the position of in-between drawings ... ... ... 85 

CELLS. Transparent sheets on which animation drawings are traced. 
Short for celluloid, but this material is not recommended, as it is 
highly inflammable. Cellulose acetate, or other colourless plastic is 
usually used 12,92 

CELL FLASH. Bright patch on film caused by reflection of light from 
uneven surface of cell into the lens ... ... ... ... 108 

CELL LEVELS. The layers of cell, each bearing an animation drawing, 
which are placed on the pegs over the background to build up a 
complete frame. Advisable not to use more than three. Number 
must remain constant throughout scene (see "Blank")... ... 93 

CHARACTER. Representation of a personality, as distinct from an 

\J UlCwl IM«»«/ ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• 13 

CHARACTER SKETCHES. Drawings defining features, proportions, 
clothes, etc., of a character, and specifying his type expressions, and 

I CuLCI w llo ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• • • • ••• ••• /J 

CHARTS. Camera: Frame by frame instructions to cameraman as to 
cell levels, background movement, etc. 100 

Music/Speech: Frame by frame analysis of sound track, so that 
animation will synchronise with it ... ... ... ... 9! 

CLEAN-UP. Making finished drawings from roughs (q.v.). Removing 
surplus ink, paint, finger-prints and dust from cells before photo- 
graphy. A very important procedure. 

COLOUR KEY. A specimen cell of each character or object painted 
in colours or tones as a guide to the painting of the whole scene. 
Designed together with the background ... ... ... 92 

CONCERTINA MOVEMENT. Movement transferred from one char- 
acter or object, or one of their parts, to another... ... ... 56 

CONTINUITY. The smooth unfolding of the story of a film, by means 
of progressive changes of scene ... ... ... ... ... 77 

CUT. (a) Direct change of scene in successive frames ... ... 79 

(b) Removal of frames from the film. 

CUT-BACK. Correction of a mistake in photography. A label is photo- 
graphed stating the number of frames on which the mistake occurs 
(cut back X frames) and these frames are shot again. The mistake 
is then cut out of the print before projection. 

CUT-OUTS, (a) Things which do not change in outline during move- 
ment can be animated by hand as a cut-out drawing. A guide showing 
the portion of the cut-out for each frame is drawn on cell, and placed 
on the pegs. The cut-out is put in position, under the guide. The 
guide is removed and the exposure made. Simple animation can be 
made with jointed figures in this way ... ... ... ... 94 


(b) The foreground of a scene which goes over the animation can be 
drawn on paper and cut out to save an additional cell level ... 98 

CUTTING COPY. The complete film made up of separate scenes 
joined together. It is not usually possible to photograph the film 
straight through from beginning to end, with all scenes in the correct 
order. After final adjustments are made to the cutting copy, the 
negatives are cut and assembled to match it, and a print made with- 
out joins ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 12 

DIRECTOR. The person who takes responsibility for what appears on 
the screen and the methods by which the result is achieved ... 13 

DOUBLE FRAME. One animation drawing photographed for two 
frames instead of one. Either halves the speed of a movement or the 
number of drawings required for an action of a certain time. Triple 
and quadruple frame animation is possible for very slow movement. 
Is more likely to cause optical jitter (q.v.) than single frame ... 31 

EFFECTS. Sound: Sounds accompanying movements to increase their 
realism. Not necessarily the natural sound ... ... ... 81 

Animation: Reproduction of natural effects, such as rain, fire, water, 
in animation ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 1 19 

FADE-IN. The scene gradually appears from black ... 79,116 

FADE-OUT. The scene gradually darkens to black ... 79,116 

FIELD. The area which a lens will reproduce as an image on the film 17 

FOCAL LENGTH. The distance from the optical centre of a lens to 
the point at which rays of light passing through it converge. (The 
focal point) ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 17 

FRAME, (a) One picture on the film 14 

(b) The background, cell levels, cut-outs and foreground which are 
assembled on the pegs under the camera to be photographed so that 
they will appear on a frame of film 107 

FRAME GLASS. Sheet of glass used to press down upon the cells under 
the camera to keep them flat 107 

FRAME MASK. Space within which scenes and movement are designed. 
Its dimensions are the same as the field covered by the lens at a given 
distance. Registered to the pegs in the same way as animation 

Qi aVringS ... ••• ••• ... ... ... ... ... jlkj 

GATE. Apparatus in camera and projector to hold each frame 
momentarily still behind the lens 14 

GUIDE-LINES. See "Calibrations, Cut-Outs". 

HOLD. Photograph one drawing on several frames, so that It appears 
still on the screen ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 101 

HOT-SPOT. Part of the field which is over-illuminated. Appears as 
an over-exposed patch on the film 108 


IN-BETWEENS. Drawings between two key positions (q.v.) ... 29 

INERTIA. Tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest, or motion 
in a straight line, until that state is changed by external force ... 48 

IRIS. A circular opening, which can be made to expand or contract: 

(a) in the lens, to control exposure 104 

(b) over-animation, to change the scene 80 

JITTER. Uncontrolled movement on the screen caused by faulty 
animation, tracing or camera work 98 

JITTER, OPTICAL. Flicker on the screen caused by animation which is 
not sympathetic to the eye. Objects in strong tonal contrast with 
the background, whose shape does not harmonise with the line of 
movement are the worst offenders. Their successive images are 
retained by the eye longer than normal, which causes an apparent 
double image ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 34 

KEYS. Animation drawing of the principal positions in a movement. 
Keys are made of positions where any part of the figure stops, starts, 
or changes direction 29 

LAYOUT. Design of a scene, including background, characters in 
correct relative size, colours cell levels and camera movement... 1 1 

LIGHT BOX. Animation desk with registration pegs and glass drawing 
surface illuminated from below 15 

LINE TEST. Sequence of pencil animation drawings photographed and 
projected, usually in negative, to check quality of animation before 
proceeding with tracing on to cells 32,93 

MIX. One scene fades out, at the same time as another is fading in, so 
that the two scenes are superimposed for a short period 79, 117 

MOMENTUM. The amount of motion in a body. The product of its 
mass and velocity. Used loosely to describe the tendency of a moving 
body to remain moving (see "Inertia") 48 

MULTIPLANE. Elaboration of camera rostrum. The animation board 
has a plate-glass base, in place of the pressure pad and a number of 
glass sheets are placed beneath it, at varying distances, each carrying 
animation or background on cell. They are lit and operated independ- 
ently, and enable many different planes of perspective to be photo- 
graphed at once, giving an illusion of a third dimension. 

OBJECT. Thing which does not normally move of its own volition, but 
can be made to do so in animation. 

OPTICAL AXIS. Line passing through the optical centre and the focal 
point of a lens ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 17 

OPTICAL CENTRE. Point in centre of lens which a ray of light will 
pass through without being deviated. 


OPTICALS. Mixes, Fades, Wipes, etc., made by the processing 
laboratories on an optical printing machine after the scenes have been 
photographed instead of in the camera during photography. Entails 
making duplicate negatives. 

PAN. Contraction of panorama. In live action, the camera pivots and 
sweeps round an arc for an horizontal pan, and tilts up or down for a 
vertical pan. This effect is reproduced in animation by a background 
sliding past the camera 79 

PANNING GEAR. Wooden strips sliding in grooves on the animation 
board to which pan backgrounds are attached, to prevent un- 
controlled movement 120 

PARALLAX. The difference between the image seen through the 
viewfinder and the image recorded by the lens, due to the lens and 
viewfinder being in different positions. Increases as the subject is 
brought nearer to the camera. Can be remedied to a certain extent 
by tilting the viewfinder, so that its axis and the optica! axis of the 
lens coincide at the position of the subject 103 

PRESSURE PLATE/PAD. A device to enable background and cells to 
be photographed flat at even overall pressure. It consists of a sheet 
of plate-glass in a wood or metal frame hinged to the animation board. 
Beneath it is a pad of felt or several thicknesses of cloth, blotting 
paper, or sponge rubber 107 

PUNCH. Used to punch holes in animation paper and cells for the 
purpose of registration (q.v.) 16 

REFLECTIONS. Parts of the rostrum, the camera, or their surround- 
ings reflected in the glass and photographed. Can be avoided by 
carefully painting all parts with matt black and shielding the lens and 
the lights. Are more troublesome with darker backgrounds and 
larger fields ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 108 

REGISTRATION. To ensure correct position of animated drawings and 
cells, in relation to one another, background and camera ... 14 

REGISTER HOLES. Holes punched in animation paper and cell corres- 
ponding to register pegs 15 

REGISTER PEGS. A metal bar fitted with pegs designed to keep 
animation in correct register 16 

REGISTER PINS. Device in camera gate to ensure that each frame of 
film is in exactly the same position as preceding and following 

1 1 <*l liCv • « • ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• ••• • • • I \Ja 

RE-TAKE. Shooting a scene again, owing to unsatisfactory result the 
first time. 

ROSTRUM. Rigid support for the camera and the animation board, 
so that they do not alter position relative to each other in an un- 
controlled way 105 


ROSTRUM CAMERA. Apparatus for producing an image on cine-film. 
Its minimum requirements for animation work are that it must be 
capable of exposing one frame of film at a time as required ... 105 

ROSTRUM CAMERAMAN. The operator of the camera. His duties, 
apart from photography, usually include changing cells, animating 
cut-outs by hand and operating the rostrum 120 

ROSTRUM CAMERA REPORT. A detailed description of a scene, its 
footage, stock used, processing required, etc., which may accompany 
the exposed film to the laboratory. 

RUN OUT. In animation: Cause a line or shape to grow or from a 

In photography: Exhaust the supply of film in the magazine. This 
usually occurs in the middle of a scene and means re-taking, so it is 
advisable to keep an accurate record of all film used from a roll III 

SCRIPTS, (a) Illustrated: The rough idea of the story, with "thumb- 
nail" sketches 11,76 

(b) Timed, or Shooting: A detailed specification, showing the time 
of each action, divided into scenes 81 

SET-UP. Term used for the field covered by the camera at a given 
distance from the drawings on the animation board 17 

SET-UP KEY. A controlling drawing to indicate the position of one or 
more set-ups for the guidance of the rostrum cameraman. 

SEQUENCE. Any number of consecutive scenes which together express 
a situation. 

SHOOTING. Photography. 

SHOT. A scene. 

SINGLE FRAME. Each animation drawing photographed for one frame 

vy iiiy ••• • ■ ■ ••• ••• • * • ••• ••• ••• • • • w i 

SPROCKET HOLES. The holes on cine film by which the film is guided 
through the camera, and held still in the gate. Of exactly the same 
dimensions, and an equal distance apart. On the edges of 35 mm., 
16 mm. and 8 mm. film, between the frames in the centre on 9.5 

••• ••• ••• ••• «•• ••• ••• ••• ••• 

SQUASH. Distortion of animated forms ... ... ... ... 50 

STOP. Size of the aperture in the iris controlling the amount of light 
reaching the film 104 

STORY BOARD. Board to display the action and layout sketches of 
an animated film, in sequence ... ... ... ... ... 70 

SYMPATHETIC MOVEMENT (see "Jitter-Optical"). Movement on 
the screen which the eye will readily accept as continuous 34 


SYNCHRONISATION, (a) Animating so that an action will occur at 
the same time as its accompanying sound... ... ... ... 91 

(b) Matching the cutting copy to the sound track so that a married 
print can be made with sound on the same film as the picture. 

TAKE. The photography of a scene. Each new take of the same scene 
is numbered (T.I, T.2, etc.). 

TAKE-BOARD. Label photographed at the start of each scene, for 
identification purposes. States the title of film, number of scene and 
number of take. 

TEST CAMERA. Camera and rostrum usually of a simple type used 
solely for line testing (q.v.). 

TESTING. Avoiding subsequent headaches by making sure of exposure, 
lighting, focus, before shooting begins 112 

TIMING. Determining speed of action and sound 22 

TURNTABLE. Apparatus on the animation board which enables the 
field to rotate through 360 degrees, securable in any position. Used 
for panning backgrounds diagonally. 

TREATMENT. Preliminary to writing script. Marshalling of ideas and 
situations suitable for the film in hand. 

TRIP GEAR. Apparatus used in photography which enables single 
frames of film, or a succession of single frames, to be exposed at 
constant speed, by means of a clutch, and an electric motor ... 113 

THREE-TO-ONE GEAR. Apparatus used in photography in Technicolor 
by the successive frame method. Enables three exposures to be 
made at a time by one operation of the trip gear (see). Each exposure 
is through a different coloured filter. 

WIPE. One scene appears to slide over the preceding scene. The 
dividing line between the scenes can take any desired form ... 117 




By Tony Rose 

Provides, in the language of the 
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By John Halas and Roger Manvell 

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Focal ClneBooks tell the secrets of making good films. 
Focal ClneBooks show you the best methods of successful 
technique. map out commonsense ways 

to the art of the amateur. Focal CineBook are written by 
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CARTOOIS FILMS are the magic of our age. The 
cartoonist is the sovereign creator of a fairy tale 
ivorld of his own; he dreams up a story, he designs 
his actors, he makes them move and governs all their 
antics. Yet in the end they live as if of their oicn ivill. 
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uncover this magic stage by stage, step by step, stroke 
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board, stand behind you at the animation desk and 
put your finger straight at the exposure release.